The meteoric rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to gather pace. Spending on IoT reached $737 billion last year and is expected to hit $1.29 trillion by 2020, according to IDC. This trend represents an enormous opportunity for businesses to gather more valuable data. It can help you to manage staff, stock, and other assets more efficiently, to understand customers better, and to analyze service and product performance.
With so much potential it should come as no surprise that 38% of US companies are already actively using IoT solutions, and 81% will have deployed by the end of 2018, per Machina Research.
But realizing the potential is easier said than done. There are challenges to overcome and lots of factors to consider. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips to help you roll out a successful IoT strategy.
Always Start With a Business Case
No new technology, no matter how promising, should be adopted without a clear business case for its use. Working out what you expect your IoT devices to do is of paramount importance. You need cold, hard facts and figures that show the cost of your strategy and the expected return on investment (ROI). Be clear about your expectations, so that you can plan properly and measure the effectiveness post-deployment.
Enterprises expect a quick ROI in the current climate, so any successful strategy must clearly lay out the expected benefits. When 451 Research asked 1,000 enterprise IT buyers globally, the second top concern raised by 41% of respondents was lack of perceived ROI.
Plan What Data You’ll Collect and What You’ll Do With It
From a logistical point of view, it’s important to plan precisely what data you need to collect, how it’s going to be collected and stored, and what you plan to do with it once you have it. Always ensure there’s a tangible benefit connected. Collecting everything with the idea that you’ll find value later is not a sensible approach. You could be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk.
Any data breach will have serious ramifications. The cost of identifying and plugging the leak is only the beginning. There’s also reputational damage and punitive measures from regulators to consider, particularly where personal customer or employee data is involved.
Your data collection should be focused and logical. If you plan to implement wearable devices to improve employee safety, make sure that your Human Resources department is part of the conversation and formulate a transparent policy to address privacy concerns.
Consider Analytics and Machine Learning
There’s a lot of excitement about the potential of machine learning and predictive analytics, but you need to start with a sound analytical foundation. With a huge volume of data, you’ll need a high-performance platform capable of processing it, and the right algorithms to mine value. The power of big data analytics is in asking the right questions.
Make sure that analytics are built into your system and delivering actionable insights, before you consider how to implement machine learning or predictive analytics.
Ensure that Security Is Baked in From the Start
Securing the IoT is still a problem. It came top of the concern list in the 451 Research study, with half of respondents citing it as the main impediment to IoT deployment. The risk of data loss and invasion of privacy must inform your strategy design. Strive for clarity in policy and an easily maintainable audit trail, along with regular risk assessments.
The immaturity of IoT is causing a lot of security concerns, but we’ve been through this process with BYOD and the rise of mobile devices.
What’s required is a platform that enables your IT department to configure and secure all IoT devices on the network, encrypt data, and wipe or update them remotely as part of a regular maintenance schedule. Depending on the type of device, a solution like Citrix XenMobile Enterprise Mobile Device Management that increases security with mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM), mobile content management (MCM), secure networks and enterprise mobile apps in one comprehensive solution may be appropriate.
Plan Deployment, Training, and Maintenance
Take time to plan deployment and make sure that employees are prepared and trained in how to leverage your IoT devices. Get HR involved to ensure there’s a clear use case for employee data collection and to keep staff informed about the rationale behind your strategy.
One final thing to stir into the mix is a proper maintenance schedule that caters for security and functionality updates through software, wear and tear on devices in use, and data deletion where appropriate.
There are lots of moving parts to consider here, so take your time and plan carefully if you want to develop a successful IoT strategy.