Few companies have yet to formulate a strategy for dealing with the emerging use of both company deployed and users acquired "things."
Indeed, I expect most organizations to deal with the Enterprise of Things (EoT) the same way they did with mobile; wait and react to end user demands rather than proactively manage the resources. It didn't work well then and it won't work well now!
I recommend (rather strongly) that enterprises get ahead of the curve. It's the only way to maximize benefits and create a compelling business advantage. It's also the only way IT can cope and not have to react in a panic as it did when mobile devices achieved critical mass deployments.
To this end, I suggest the most advantageous thing an enterprise can do in the near term is focus on the ability of any EoT deployments to provide actionable intelligence of monitored process, workflows and work spaces. This can quickly improve overall operations of the organization. Acquiring data and effectively analyzing the intelligence provided can lead to many important insights the organization can leverage.
There are many ways to achieve this goal, but here I offer my seven requirements for EoT (although you will likely be adding more over time).
1. EoT creates lots of data that must be analyzed. Don’t capture and store it if you can’t properly analyze it. Indeed, I see this issue as one of the key impediments to enterprises gaining real benefits from EoT. This is not a big data problem. Its a big insights problem.
2. EoT without actionable intelligence is a wasted opportunity. But many companies simply don’t know what data is most important to capture. The lack of data modeling expertise in most organizations is causing wasted insights. Start cultivating your expertise in this area now.
3. I estimate less than 10% of EoT data is currently used effectively. The trick is how to get value from the other 90%. In fact, it’s often the case that organizations store data they ultimately never analyze due to lack of tools, capability to know what to look for, and capacity constraints. Don't get caught in that trap.
4. EoT must be secured from the design phase, not as an afterthought. Since many things stay in service for years and are not able to be updated, security is critical. Breaches of EoT devices can be costly, and in certain cases may lead to damage or even causalities (think machine tools, or healthcare).
5. My experience is that most organizations have a wrongheaded perception of what EoT costs. Cost of EoT is 10% devices and 90% enabling those devices to effectively interact with corporate systems. Most companies think it’s the other way around. Plan your budgets accordingly.
6. End Users will deploy their own "things." BYOD with IoT will eclipse the past pain of mobile BYOD in most organizations. In fact, I expect that user supplied “things” will greatly outnumber the quantity of smartphones and tablets currently in use in many organizations. If enterprises don’t plan accordingly they will be inundated and unable to cope with the sheer volumes, and trying to prevent BYOD simply won’t work (just as it didn’t work in mobile).
7. Think communications. Not all EoT will be wireless, but they all need to be data sharers in some fashion. And many devices will be two-way, requiring not only the capture of data, but also the need for apps running on the devices that interface in some fashion with users. Thinking of EoT devices as dumb sensors offering up data is a strategy that will ultimately mean failure. Build an app strategy up front, not after "things" get deployed.
EoT is coming rapidly. Enterprises must look at EoT not only as devices, which represent only the tip of the iceberg, but as a total ecosystem requiring investments in secure infrastructure, capable data capture and analytics, and purpose built apps that empower devices to aid the workforce.
This is no small task and will take at least two to three years to be realized. In fact, it may never be fully realized as I expect the need for continuous investments in upgrading the components to be an ongoing challenge. But you need to get started now!
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