IoT Devices: An Enterprise Guide
How To Leverage This Technology
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become an important topic in the enterprise. Billions of IoT devices have already been deployed, with more investments expected in this technology in the years to come. It has developed into a key component of digital transformation.
Enterprise Mobility Exchange wanted to explore this topic in more detail. Use this helpful guide to learn about the past, the present, and the future of these gadgets in business.
IoT Devices Defined
An IoT device is a traditionally non-internet device that now has connectivity. This enables certain objects to connect and communicate with other devices. Most items with a sensor on it that are able to collect and share data would fall under this term.
There are billions and billions of connected endpoints in the enterprise, including many standard workplace objects that are now equipped with sensors. Wearables are fashioned with connectivity so that workers in offices, warehouses, and in the field are able to transit data with colleagues. Workplace security cameras and locks are now equipped with sensors to ensure a safer working environment. It is common to find utilities, such as lighting and HVAC systems, which include this technology. Even something as common as office printers and scanners are leveraging internet connectivity.
History Of This Technology
Most people think that the devices are relatively new, it turns out that they have been around for decades. As the usage of the internet expanded, more and more devices were equipped with some degree of internet connectivity. One of the first devices to fall under this term came in 1982 when students at Carnegie Mellon University invented an ARPANET-connected soda machine. In 1999, MIT’s Kevin Ashton coined the “Internet of Things” phrase, and businesses began to consider adopting devices with this technology.
During the 2000s, more wireless devices connected to the internet were deployed in the enterprise. In 2008, the first International Conference of the Internet of Things occurred. By 2011, Gartner added the subject to its Hype Cycle, proving that the technology had become a staple in the enterprise. Part of the reason behind the proliferation of this technology is because the growth of cloud computing, which allowed organizations to store data attained from devices at a fraction of the cost.
Industry Experts Explain IoT
More enterprises are leveraging these devices, with 48% of enterprises planning to invest in the technology in 2019. To gain an understanding about these devices, it is critical that organizations learn the advantages of IoT connectivity. Here are some quotes from industry experts:
“To take advantage of all that IoT promises, smart companies are doubling down on mobile technology and renewing their focus on IoT to reinvent their business and crush the competition,” said Carl Rodrigues, CEO of SOTI.
“I think the benefits are tremendous,” said Brian Laughlin, a technical fellow with Boeing. “That's what what IoT is about. How do I sensorize the world? How do I give inanimate objects a voice so I can call out to them and have conversations about their conditions? I can automate tasks such as authentication and authorization.”
“Historically it's been time, human capital, labor, and energy,” said Ryan Martin, principal analyst from ABI Research. “Even if we were to assume no change to the inputs themselves, IoT allows us to measure them much more precisely and also across environments, cross correlate those measures of input, find out what's really causing the change. I think the real value is that we'll be able to broaden the number of inputs and have better control over what that does for productivity.”
“Despite continued security problems, IoT will spread and people will become increasingly dependent on it,” said Richard Adler, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future. “The cost of breaches will be viewed like the toll taken by car crashes, which have not persuaded very many people not to drive.”
IoT Devices Trends
For many organizations, it isn’t a question of if they are going to leverage this new technology, but rather a question of how. One of the leading trends in the enterprises is to combine the usage of it with another emerging technology.
Combining With Artificial Intelligence
The most obvious solution that can be paired with these gadgets is artificial intelligence (AI). Machine intelligence solutions can easily be combined with the usage of the Internet of Things. Gartner predicts that 80% of enterprise IoT devices will soon incorporate some AI capabilities.
Companies that are utilizing both technologies are experiencing significant cost savings and increased productivity. Data retrieved from sensors is being leveraged to help identify cost drivers, which can help decrease expenses while improving workplace efficiencies. These solutions can be useful for businesses that are constantly dealing with inefficiencies, because the technology can quickly calculate massive sets of data and provide suggestions for improving processes.
In addition to the productivity and savings, AI and IoT can enhance workplace security and safety. These technologies work together to predict potential security vulnerabilities and to automatically provide a swift response. This includes scanning security footage and automatically closing gates and doors when an intruder is detected.
Combining With Blockchain
Organizations are also combining these gadgets with distributed ledger technology, which is commonly called blockchain. When combined, both technologies accelerate how data is transmitted and shared in the enterprise. This explains why companies are starting to realize the potential of both solutions.
“If I had to put a year on it, I would say by 2020 a small percentage of organizations may have a system reliably implemented, but with minimal features and functionality,” said Mike Leone, a senior analyst with ESG. “By 2022, I expect a more robust feature set, common reference architectures, and enough case studies available that give organizations the confidence to do it themselves.”
Just like with AI, blockchain is able to combine with these gadgets and reduce operational costs. Companies can save money thanks to the decentralized capabilities of allowing data to be transmitted on a peer-to-peer basis. This is a more-cost effective way to scale IoT in the enterprise.
Another benefit is also enhanced security. At its core, security is one of the innate features of blockchain, which is good because security with connected devices is always a concern. Blockchain can be leveraged to ensure secure communications between endpoints, and to strengthen privacy agreements. That’s the benefit of having a trusted ledger — it improves transparency and keeps a record of all interactions.
IoT Devices Examples: Benefits By Industry
To understand the top benefits of this technology, let’s examine applications by different sectors.
The growing manufacturing industry in the United States stands to benefit the most from the integration of this technology in the workplace. Manufacturers are leveraging this solution to track the flow of production on the supply chain. Data collected from sensors is being utilized to monitor each component of a product. Companies can also use this data to improve the quality of a product, as well as enhancing workplace safety.
“From the ability to collect big data and metadata to make better decisions, or leveraging insights to create more efficient technologies to maximize cost saving, to the environmental impact that data and technologies can provide, IoT is reshaping the way manufacturers produce goods and drive revenue and efficiency,” said Rodrigues.
Initially, the healthcare industry was a slow adopter of these gadgets. In 2016, only 14% of IT budgets were allocated to the Internet of Health Things (IoHT). Fast forward over two years later, and the healthcare industry is embracing this technology at a rapid pace. Medical facilities are using IoHT to cut costs and improve the quality of care that patients receive. Thanks to this technology, the industry has increased the usage of remote patient monitoring with different devices, and the popularity of telehealth (or telemedicine) has increased. The data collected from different sensors are being used to manage patients, staff, and to reduce emergency room waiting room times.
Transportation and Logistics
This technology is changing the way that the transportation industry operates. Sensors attached to vehicles track the exact locations where they are on their routes. The data from the sensors is used to determine precise delivery times, and rerouting vehicles in case of an accident or inclement weather. It can also track fuel consumption, which will improve fuel efficiency and lower costs.
“Transportation companies have the opportunity to become the model for best practices in IoT,” said Rodrigues. “Sensors, mobile scanners and other Internet-connected devices are being used to manage a multitude of different variables including warehouse management, schedules and transportation routes, fuel efficiency, theft, you name it!”
The usage of this technology is impacting every end of a retail operation. The technology is improving the customer experience, which includes beacons that push out more relevant messages at the point-of-sale, and automated checkout capabilities in the front of the store. Retailers are leveraging the solution to enhance inventory management, with smart shelves that track which items the store is running low on. There are also capabilities that alert stores when theft has occurred, which saves both time and money. All of these benefits allow retail operations to cut back costs and it empowers workers to focus on more meaningful tasks.
Financial Services Industry
This technology is reshaping the entire financial services industry, with enterprises leveraging the new data to gain deeper customer insights, and to deliver more personalized offers. In banking, IoT devices are the first line of defense used to prevent theft in ATMs. Insurance companies are using the data from sensors to determine potential risks and future payouts to customers. The usage of this technology in financial services is expected to surpass $2 billion in five years.
Securing IoT Devices
One of the biggest challenges with adopting these gadgets is with security. In a 2018 survey conducted by 451 Research, 55% of respondents listed security as the top priority for deploying these solutions. It is up to enterprises to ensure the right levels of security with these devices to protect data at various stages of an endpoint’s lifecycle.
An increasingly connected enterprise means that no endpoint should be neglected from security. Some of the biggest attack vectors in workplaces right now are printers and HVAC systems, both of which have wireless capabilities that hackers have manipulated to breach a company’s network and steal data.
Perhaps no industry has dealt more with cybersecurity threats from these sensors than the healthcare industry. In 2018, researchers at the Black Hat security conference proved that hackers could easily penetrate heart monitoring devices and remotely install malware. Nearly all medical devices use machine-to-machine capabilities to treat patients, but there are numerous security vulnerabilities.
“Healthcare facilities face the challenge of weighing out the cost of replacing medical devices versus the possibility of potential cybersecurity threats, safety, and device effectiveness,” said Rizwan Jan, Chief Information Security Officer for the Henry M. Jackson Foundation of Advancements In Military Medicine. “Mitigating information security risks can be challenging as they require a contributing balance to protect safety and secure device development from both the manufacturer and health care facilities to manage the risks of devices.”
The security threats of medical devices are exacerbated because of a lack of regulations. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides security guidelines, older medical devices might lack basic security measures. Other sectors should look at the healthcare industry as an example of what happens when this technology poses a threat to data and people.
Enterprises must take precaution and protect the billions of new endpoints. Six in 10 enterprises have recorded at least one security incident from these gadgets. Although there are many steps to securing these endpoints, here some of the best practices that every enterprise should follow:
- Centralize access logs so that IT members can recognize threats before sensors are breached and data gets compromised.
- Avoid default passwords and create stronger ones with multi-factor authentication that act a first line of defense.
- Remove IoT devices from the main network and place them in their own separate network, such as a virtual LAN.
- Utilize a virtual private network (VPN) with encryption capabilities to protect the data on devices.
Questions To Ask Before Deploying IoT Devices
What is the purpose of the sensors?
Before embarking on deployment, the first step is to identify the purpose of the new sensors. This is when an organization should establish goals, which might include improved connectivity and the type of data that needs to be harnessed.
How will the data from sensors get transmitted?
Enterprises have numerous network technology choices for these projects, including Bluetooth, LTE, and WiFi. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Businesses should consider several different features, such as transfer speed and bandwidth.
How are you securing the connected devices?
Security should be a primary objective that is achieved long before device deployment. Enterprises need to develop an IoT policy and compliance function to achieve optimal security levels. They should also determine if the authentication will be based on passwords or certificates, as well as the other layers of software and hardware protection that will stop hackers.
Do you have a buy-in from c-suite for these projects?
To ensure a successful deployment, it is imperative for IT to be on the same page with c-suite. The CEO and other high-level officials should recognize the value of having these devices in their organization. In order to get a buy-in, digital transformation leaders might have to make the case with a presentation.
What is your organizational structure for these projects?
A successful deployment of sensor rests on the organizational structure. Enterprises should have cooperative partnerships in place between different departments, including between IT and OT. Roles should also be defined on IT teams, with employees managing different components of the devices, including applications, system infrastructure, and data.
What Will The Future Of IoT Devices Look Like?
The future looks bright for the Internet of Things in the enterprise. By 2025, it is projected that there will be over 75 billion connected devices worldwide. The biggest opportunity isn’t with the actual sensors that are being deploying, but rather with the data that is generated from those sensors. With more data being processed in the enterprise than ever before, there could be an increase in edge computing to improve processing times.
It is vital that every enterprise prepare for the future of this technology. To learn about the best ways to get ready for it, read our exclusive report: “Connecting The Enterprise: Is Business Ready For IoT?”