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What is the Internet of Things?

The IT industry’s favourite buzz phrase, The Internet of Things (IoT) has now become a mainstream topic of discussion, but what is it?


Well, IoT is simple

It’s about connecting devices through the internet, letting them talk to users, applications and other devices. According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on IoT by 2020.

We may wear these devices on our wrists to track our movement and sleep patterns. They sit in our kitchens taking note of when we need to order milk or controlling our heating and they are out in the wider world scouting potential buyers in retail stores. These devices also sit in factories, talking to each other and creating processes via the internet.

Why you should be pushing IoT?

Capgemini estimates that’s 70% of organisations do not generate service revenues from their IoT solutions, yet Accenture has estimated that the Industrial Internet of Things could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

This huge growth will have a dramatic impact on enterprise networking and the way businesses work. Many IoT applications will demand extensive connectivity across multiple networks and traffic volumes will be unpredictable with so much more data being generated.

Despite these impacts, there are steps enterprises can take now to start building the sturdy, flexible, scalable networks that can act as the foundation and basis of the new IoT based world.

Businesses’ should:

  • Deliver faster wireless connectivity for networks. This will become critical as the IoT implementation gathers pace
  • Adapt and enhance their existing cloud delivery models to cope with escalating traffic and data growth

Businesses won’t see IoT as an immediate revenue generator, but if they miss out on the current opportunities to use it as a tool to make their service better, they may miss out on the long term benefits being brought to the market.

Is the hype in danger of outweighing the reality?

IoT is not a hype that will quickly fade away and the tech world is currently underestimating the potential impact it could have on the global economy. There is no sector that IoT will not make an impression on. It will disrupt agriculture, energy, security and healthcare just to name a few.

The IoT that is already out there isn’t being used to its full advantage with only 1% of all the collected data being used, and even then we’re only using the data for simple tasks such as control systems and checking irregularities.

While IoT is a diverse opportunity touching various vertical markets, there are many use cases that are common across industries, such as preventative maintenance, employee training and productivity, energy management, supply chain management, and customer experience. It is truly a cultural and organisational transformation as much as a technological transformation.

We should expect a future where every possible object will be connected to the internet with sensors and actuators. IoT is not yet as mainstream as originally expected but enterprises need to embrace this trend now technologically and culturally or they will be left behind when it is seen as the norm.

Security Concerns

Everything new and shiny has its downsides, and security is the one for IoT. It has been predicted that over 25% of identified attacks in enterprises will involve IoT.

As the IoT market grows, hackers will have an expanded surface area to work with meaning protecting a company’s intellectual property, customer data and operational infrastructures will be more urgent than ever.

According to Accenture, the following four scenarios highlight the security challenge we face with IoT:

Click a bullet point for more information

• Industrial control systems

that run everything from utilities to factories now combine formerly walled off operational technology and IT in IoT-based solutions, potentially exposing fundamental infrastructure to threats that could shut down cities or harm citizens.

• Connected vehicles

stream the latest information and entertainment, but could fall victim to hacker attempts to reprogram vehicle electronics, compromising passenger safety or damaging automaker brands.

• Unmanned aerial vehicles

or ‘drones’ play increasingly prominent roles in modern life, but their wireless IoT connections are vulnerable to attack, allowing hackers to hijack them for malicious purposes.

• Connected retail

provides more insights than ever into consumer behaviours, but it also opens up massive new amounts of customer data to attacks.

Securing the IoT will require companies to adopt new ways of thinking to defend themselves and their customers against malicious attackers and privacy abuses.

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