The Internet of Things: Still Lots for You to Learn

by John Edwards, InformationWeek, January 11, 2018

IT groups will need to provide architecture, data-mining tools and connectivity, while giving business groups the freedom to innovate on their own with the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already making a significant impact in a variety of business areas, including industrial monitoring and production, supply chain tracking, and multiple retail processes.

Down the road, experts see the IoT becoming nothing less than an integral aspect of everyday life, with a huge role for IT to play.

Earlier this year, Gartner forecast that 8.4 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide this year, up 31% from last year. These include door locks, industrial robots, traffic lights, smoke detectors, heating and cooling systems, smart cars, heart monitors, trains, wind turbines, and even toasters. The total number of connected devices will reach 20.4 billion by 2020, Gartner predicted. Meanwhile, total spending on IoT-related endpoints and services was estimated at almost $2 trillion in 2017, Gartner added.

Important considerations

The IoT has profound implications for businesses of all types and sizes, yet industrial IoT holds the greatest potential, said Matt Rossi, director of technology at Janeiro Digital, a Boston-based business consultancy. “While it may not have the popularity of many consumer based markets — smart home, wearables, etc. — there is massive potential in connecting manufacturing, agriculture, energy, robotics, and so on,” he explained.

The most important part of becoming familiar with IoT is understanding how to capture and manage data to make better, informed decisions, said George Westerman, principal research scientist at MIT Sloan Executive Education. “Once businesses get control of the data through IoT integration, they can make it available for use,” he noted.

Enterprises must also be prepared to meet IoT’s sizeable resource demands. “The key issue created by IoT is one of scale,” observed Paul Hill, a senior consultant at System Experts, an IT security and compliance consulting firm in Sudbury, Mass.

Individually, IoT devices don’t possess much computational power, but they will be legion. “The number of devices in some industries will be much greater than the total number of employees,” Hill predicted. IoT has the potential to cripple inadequately built networks and data centers.

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