The Internet of Things and the Enterprise

August 31, 2015

Contributor: Christy Pettey

By leveraging the Internet of Things, enterprises will be presented with a wide range of opportunities that will result in significant benefits

The Internet of Things (IoT) has rapidly become one of the most familiar — and perhaps, most hyped — expressions across business and technology. That hype, however, is entirely justified and is backed up by the numbers.

We expect to see 25 billion Internet-connected things by 2020, and close to $2 trillion of economic benefit globally. These things are not general purpose devices, such as smartphones and PCs, but dedicated objects, such as vending machines, jet engines, connected soap dispensers and a myriad of other examples.

”The IoT will have a great impact on the economy by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and facilitating new business models, improving efficiency, and generating new forms of revenue,” said Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, the ways in which enterprises can actualize any benefits will be diverse and, in some cases, painful.”

Currently, IoT technologies — and business models that utilize IoT — are immature. Despite this immaturity, there are already sporadic examples of existing, and planned, uses across a wide range of industries. Enterprises will need to make plans and preparations now or risk being left behind by their faster-moving competitors.

The Impact of the Internet of Things

The way that the IoT is leveraged by enterprises varies substantially by industry. Retailers are incorporating RFID tags within their anti-theft tags to help manage inventory and help keep costs down. Within mining, some companies are using IoT to expand on "driverless trucks" or the autonomous haul trucks that can work round the clock, have lower costs, increased output, and reduced maintenance

It is essential for enterprises to understand how the IoT can enable transformation of their business and industry. A survey done earlier this year of business and IT executives noted manufacturing and retail are two sectors with particularly high expectations of the IoT.

Utilities, industrial sectors, connected cars, healthcare and consumers are other verticals at the forefront of IoT investment. Leveraging IoT in vertical industries will definitely revolutionize the traditional way of doing things. These changes will lead to major opportunities for providers too.

Security and Identity Issues Represent Major IoT Roadblocks

Managing identities and access is critical to the success of the IoT. However, traditional techniques cannot provide the scale or manage the complexity that the IoT requires from the enterprise.

At the heart of security solutions is the concept of identity. We are familiar with the need for identities associated with people. This concept must now be extended to things. Identities are then used to define relationships between a thing and a human, a thing and another thing, a thing and an application/service, and so on.

Business and technology leaders must reconsider how traditional approaches to cybersecurity and identity and access management work in an environment involving vast numbers of connected devices. When devices and services are so abundant, in so many different forms, and beyond the scope of any single organization, new rules must be created.

The Business Case

While security may be a roadblock, the lack of a compelling business case is a major impediment to IoT growth for enterprises. The business justifications almost certainly exist, but they have not yet been articulated and quantified by most enterprises. For those struggling to find their place in the IoT-enabled landscape, a compelling business case must be developed before large-scale deployment can happen.

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