As with any new technology trend, the Internet of Things (IoT) opens tremendous opportunities across the enterprise, but raises a number of questions, as well. In fact, the IoT really isn’t a technology, itself, but a label that has been applied to a collection of technologies – sensors, networking, and Big Data – that are being leveraged for new applications and business benefits. The question is how do you unlock the promise of the IoT to deliver tangible, long-term benefits to your business?
Yolonda Smith, application engineer at Digital Lumens and former cyberspace defense officer in the U.S. Air Force, brings a unique perspective on how early adoption of IoT technologies can influence existing business practices and assumptions. Read on for her tips, tricks and best practices for gaining the most value.
Gaining Value from the Internet of Things
Click through for five tips for maximizing the value of IoT investments, as identified by Yolonda Smith, application engineer at Digital Lumens.
Embrace the IoT
With an overflowing list of priorities, CIOs are rarely looking for another item to add to their list, but the IoT is already here and is often deployed without involvement from IT at all, especially in the built environment. That is a problem.
Rather than shying away from IoT technologies, CIOs should consider how to leverage the new layers of data that IoT systems provide. Companies that are successfully engaging in the IoT have been able to improve business operations with new streams of real-time data that inform decision making. That fact alone suggests that the IoT should be a priority for IT, the group best positioned to help the enterprise tap into the value.
Look Beyond IT
One of the new realities for IT is that – because the technologies that comprise the IoT are embedded in various systems and hardware – IoT-based devices and networks are popping up across the enterprise – from wearables to buildings and everywhere in between.
In the case of the building, next-generation lighting is bringing the IoT into many organizations. Densely deployed throughout buildings and urban landscapes, smart, connected and sensor-rich light fixtures are already becoming the most ubiquitous IoT devices. These next-generation lights are being selected and deployed by facility managers to help meet lighting and efficiency goals, but the data they collect can pay dividends throughout the organization – if it is leveraged and managed.
With intelligent lighting in warehouse environments, for example, managers are using data from embedded sensors to gain new visibility into inventory management and operator traffic patterns across the facility. Viewing the data overlaid onto an occupancy map provides floor supervisors the visibility they need to rearrange inventory placement. In turn, this improves operator and site productivity, in addition to ancillary benefits such as reducing the distance lift trucks travel – decreasing the need to recharge frequently, especially at peak demand times.
The question, then, is where is the IoT in your enterprise?
Look for Open Standards, Protocols and APIs
As with any new technology, open standards, protocols and APIs are essential to ensure that the technology platform can grow with the enterprise and integrate with the other systems of record. Will the systems need to exchange data? Make calls into one another? Open standards, paired with layered security models including end-to-end encryption, are the key to future-proofing any technology investment.
Get the Right Data and Use It
With a layer of sensing, data-generating devices across the enterprise, the high-level questions that every CIO needs to consider are:
- What data can we use for maximum business advantage and in what context do we view this data?
- Who needs access to the data?
- Who controls the data?
- Who manages the integration of that data across systems?
- What standards will be supported for data and network integrations?
- What is the system of record — an ERP system (enterprise resource planning) or BMS (building management system)?
With the answers to these questions, CIOs will have a strategy for sharing data across the enterprise and maximizing business value.
Employ Principle of Least Privilege
As with any other network, the principle of ‘least privilege’ applies to IoT networks, as well. Personnel must be able to access the information, controls and systems within the IoT network that are necessary for them to do their jobs, but no more than that. IoT systems must provide role-based provisioning and permissions in order to access systems, control device settings and behaviors, and manage data.