With millions of connected devices and more added each day, IoT is buzzworthy…but it has been for the past few years. Many predict 2018 is “The Year” for IoT – suggesting explosive growth with widespread industry adoption. I’m more skeptical than that, but I do believe we will see steady growth in its use and greater investment in its security (fingers crossed).
The technology exists and companies are capturing data that historically is difficult to obtain. Cities are becoming smarter, healthcare devices are becoming smarter…even refrigerators are becoming smarter. Why I need an alert when my 2% milk is almost empty is beyond me. I get enough texts.
From my perspective, those companies and industries that nail down the IoT value proposition and invest heavily in security will win in 2018.
Where’s the Value?
Highly granular information is available now, but just because you can collect it doesn't mean it is useful.The value of IoT for customers is identifying the data that matters. What you do with it from there becomes a normal IT function.
Beyond knowing whatto collect, you have to know how to use it. If improperly applied, some data is downright creepy. Consider the information collected by your power meter – a simple device collecting consumption patterns can show exactly what time your family leaves the house for the day or when you decide to work from home. It can veer towards Big Brother to use that information explicitly, but what if you found a meaningful way to apply that data by offering recommendations for improved energy efficiency? There is a fine line between helpful and uncomfortable. Then, once you’ve determined what information is valuable – stratify it. Otherwise, you generate so much garbage you’ll have a needle in a haystack situation.
For large companies, there’s a lot of value in using IoT to keep machines online and functioning smoothly by reducing downtime. That ability saves a lot of time and hassle, all while improving consumer experience.
Who’s Securing All of This?
Considering all the connected devices, I often wonder who is securing any of it. The moment you have data flowing between two devices, you become vulnerable. In using the smart grid as an example, one power meter could be hacked and potentially take down the entire grid.
Security, risk management, and maintainability are all important considerations as the adoption of IoT grows. Before everything was connected, you only had to worry about securing your data center, but now our devices are everywhere and there are exponentially more opportunities to get hacked.
By thinking through all the security aspects of your connected devices up front and building in certain user protections, you can prevent a lot of issues downstream. Ultimately, it takes a fairly elaborate proof of concept to vet some of these large scale initiatives out. I recommend deeply testing and disseminating updates to your devices before making a huge investment. If you have 22 million devices out there and find a fatal flaw…it’s a very painful moment that could have been prevented.
Just like last year, IoT will be part of innovative initiatives in 2018. As long as companies understand the fundamental business value their IoT endeavors will provide, it won’t be a colossal waste of money.