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Connecting Devices So You Can Connect Data

April 13, 2015  By Ian van Reenen
The Internet of Things (IoT) brings a new layer of complexity in device management for organizations. Network giant Cisco predicts there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Some of those will be smart devices like phones and computers, others will be wireless sensors. But, it will be a mistake for CIOs to think of wireless sensors as one-way communication devices as they are becoming more sophisticated and are developing the ability to communicate with one another. 

Some early uses of IoT include:
• Manufacturing companies using the technology to enable autonomous machine-to-machine communication 
• Products that allow users to control home electronics from anywhere
• Consumer products that measure daily activity and offer sleep monitoring
• Vehicles that can communicate with other vehicles and/or sensors embedded in roads
• Sensors that monitor expensive machines such as wind turbines in an effort to spot potential problems before they occur

Regardless of the opportunity being pursued, it’s clear that IT support organizations will soon be responsible for more types of devices, all of which need to be managed, monitored, updated and patched. There is also the networking, unified communications, and security required to service IoT’s infrastructure for CIOs to contemplate.

Another important element to consider is that digitized information downloaded directly from a company’s product is a terrific way to determine how customers interact with that product. The demand for storage, management and analysis of data is likely to increase exponentially.

Indeed, the authors of “The Internet of Things Business Index: A Quiet Revolution Gathers Pace,” from the Economist Intelligence Unit say businesses should also prepare for a huge influx of data. “Fitting sensors and tags to products will generate even more data than are currently being created and captured,” they write. “Beyond storing, securing, and analyzing these data, companies should also consider how they manage the commercial sharing of the data as the IoT becomes a platform for trading information.”

Prepare now for new opportunities
Essentially, as IoT becomes more mainstream, IT support organizations must be prepared for the convergence of mobile, cloud and big data. As a result, we’ll likely see remote management, remote monitoring, data management and endpoint management merge into a single function.

With some forethought, IT support organizations can position themselves to aid their customers as they begin exploiting the opportunities presented by IoT. With the Internet of Things still in its infancy, it’s not 100% clear where those opportunities lie. Nevertheless, companies will soon begin experimenting. The Economist Intelligence Unit report found that 75% of C-suite business leaders are researching the possibilities, and 30% said they feel it will unlock new revenue opportunities.

As they continue their explorations, CIOs will be looking for a platform that allows them to:
• Easily monitor the myriad of devices that will supply the data produced by IoT systems in real time
• Seamlessly add or remove devices to/from their environment
• Keep multiple environments secure, patched and stable
• Decommission infrastructure without interrupting user activity

Such a platform would, of course, be cloud-based. But more than that, it would require service providers and software providers to evolve and converge in order to appropriately serve the realities presented by the Internet of Things.

Autotask hosted a Twitter chat last week that dove deeper into all things IoT. You can view the full conversation here, and highlights below. 

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Ian van Reenen
Vice President of Engineering, Endpoint Products
Ian is responsible for driving Autotask’s endpoint management product roadmap, development and delivery at Autotask.
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