National Principal Architect
  • IT Infrastructure
Today, we’re surrounded by the Internet of Things (IoT). Wearable devices track our exercise, LTE-enabled cars help us stay connected while traveling, and home control systems allow us to adjust lighting, temperature settings, and security systems from the convenience of our smartphone or tablet. And the list is growing. In 2016, Gartner estimates 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide—a 30 percent increase from 2015—and 5.5 million new things will get connected every day. Looking out to 2020, Gartner predicts there will be 20.8 billion connected things worldwide. {1}

In simple industry terms, the Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. IoT allows objects to be remotely sensed and controlled across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems. IoT devices are producing real results today, such as lowering costs and improving sustainability via better energy management and enhancing customer experience via analytics, and new use cases continue to emerge.

But IoT is not only about devices; it’s about data—and, ultimately, how that data can help to deliver improved business, social, and environmental results. IoT devices produce a massive amount of data. When that data is effectively harnessed, manipulated, and analyzed, it can yield new business insights and help executives take action to drive improved business outcomes and competitive advantages for their companies. And that has never been more important than it is today.

Digital transformation is affecting every industry, and IoT is a key part of it. Customers and employees are changing the market dynamics and demanding more from organizations. They are placing high importance on digital engagement and being more selective than ever before when choosing the organizations with which they will engage and partner. In fact, according to Forrester, “2016 will prove to be the most consequential year for companies adapting to digitally-savvy, empowered customers.” {2} In short, the companies that embrace digital transformation will lead in the battle for customers and top-talented employees, and those that don’t will lag behind. 

Preparing for Your Journey

While use cases vary by industry, the fact is IoT will continue to grow and data analytics will become more sophisticated as time goes on, and every company will be affected. IT executives can help prepare their companies for the journey ahead by evaluating their readiness in four significant impact areas:

Endpoints

Regardless of the industry, IoT will have a significant impact on endpoints for every organization. New endpoints will need to be added as IoT grows, and existing endpoints may need to be upgraded or replaced entirely in order to support IoT applications. And the changes will have an impact on design, implementation, management, and support requirements. Several questions are worth asking: Where would new endpoints (such as sensors or beacons) need to be placed in your organization and who will manage them? Are the tools you are using to manage organization-owned endpoints today ready for the demands of IoT?

Infrastructure

Meeting the demands of IoT applications likely will require changes to both wired and wireless network infrastructure. To accommodate new wired and wireless IoT devices, additional physical and wireless network infrastructure likely will need to be added and careful traffic analysis will be required to ensure the design will support the exponential growth in the amount of data communicated. In addition, data collection from IoT devices will have a tremendous impact on data center compute and storage requirements. Is your wired and wireless infrastructure ready to support the demands of IoT? Does your infrastructure support the integration, orchestration, and automation required to enable IoT?

Data

Due to the increase in IoT devices, organizations must have the capacity to handle a large influx of data. Supporting that data will require infrastructure as well as management, security, and data analytics tools and resources. This may require bringing new IT talent into an organization or equipping existing resources with new skills. Do your current data management and analytics tools have the capabilities required to support IoT? Are your data management and analytics workflows able to be modified to support IoT? Does your staff have the skill sets to support IoT?

Security

As previously discussed, IoT is driving a tremendous amount of change in IT, including massive growth in the number of network-connected devices and in the amount of data communicated and stored. And all of it must be protected. As a result, security protections must address the new threat vectors introduced by IoT. Does your corporate and cyber security strategy include IoT and digital platforms? Do your security policies address the threat vectors introduced by IoT and digital platforms? Is your physical and cyber security staff ready for the implications of IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a plethora of exciting, innovative possibilities for improving business and society. The journey is just beginning, and every company needs to be prepared for it.

At ePlus, offering innovative ideas and engineering transformative technology solutions for our customers is what we do. Through our master architects, engineers, and consultants, we help our clients to see what is possible and then craft sustainable IT roadmaps to get them there.

For more information on how ePlus can help you prepare for the IoT journey ahead, click here to contact us.

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