Everything that can be connected will be connected. That’s the somewhat dog-eared maxim for the future of tech. Currently, around 23 billion ‘things’ are connected to the world’s various communication networks and more are joining at breakneck speed.
For consumers, these include everything from connected cars to toothbrushes. The general appetite for both novelty and innovation is spiking as the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google release new products into the market.
These, however, bring new business challenges around scale, interoperability, security and the management of devices and endpoints. The emotional fallout for consumers relying so heavily on technology can be hard. For example, 60% worry they could lose important data, and 29% even expressed fears of losing their jobs. The stress of technical failures concerns 72% of business owners due to the potential cost of data loss.
While machine-type communications are set to usher in the fourth industrial revolution, at least 65% of enterprises are expected to adopt a mass of connected devices by 2020 – more than twice the current rate. Manufacturers, logistics firms and retailers will be the first movers in this ‘internet of things’ (IoT) revolution, as they seek to connect and automate process-driven functions.
The rate of global connectivity is multiplying at an ever-faster rate, with three quarters of businesses now investing in mobile devices to better serve their staff and customers, and two thirds believing it will bring them greater understanding of consumers.
To ride the tech wave, enterprises must have a definitive strategy for mobility management, covering traditional devices and non-traditional ‘things’, such as connected cars taking in technical issues like interoperability, security and more apparently prosaic ones like filtering vast new oceans of data and what to save in the catch.
If a strategy is not in place, companies will find themselves throwing endless resources into connecting everything to the internet, rather than just those that are critical. So, what do businesses need to simplify mobile and IoT device management and harness the potential opportunities?
Step 1: Integration
Device management is arguably the hardest task facing the market, as 45% of businesses are failing to enforce restrictions such as blocking apps. At root level, connected devices must be properly coordinated if businesses are to easily retrieve and manipulate the data available to them, regardless of its provenance. Using an integrated suite of mobility solutions offers a smart, quick, and reliable way for businesses to build their apps faster and manage their mobile devices and IoT endpoints.
Furthermore, a tightly integrated device and IoT management system can bring additional benefits to companies seeking to create order from the rising chaos of IoT connectivity. Businesses must understand what can be achieved through IoT, not just by creating “smart” devices, but by providing business intelligence and improving productivity, cutting costs and enhancing the customer experience.
Sophisticated mobility management solutions afford real-time insights into remote device performance, which can be tapped into by help-desk teams to run device diagnostics, solve technical issues and maintain staff productivity.
Equally, the most advanced device and IoT management solutions cover rapid cross-platform app development, so enterprises can deploy enterprise applications for their own specific devices in a fraction of the time.
Ultimately, if network inter-play must be solved by the technology industry at large, the working integration of connected devices is the responsibility of leadership teams and IT departments within enterprises themselves.
Step 2: Security
This dynamism makes us vulnerable, as the WannaCry ransomware attack which impacted 200,000 computers globally makes all too clear. Over the past five years, the number of connected devices has almost tripled, and by 2020 it is estimated there will be 30 billion. Each new device provides criminals with a new way into the system.
Clearly, mobile IoT devices must be secured and regulated properly, but while governments and industry bodies hammer out the detail to ramp up minimum security-levels, it is essential that enterprises consider their own network, device and data security. New devices should have the correct security certifications but much more can be done to shore up devices and data.
Enterprises should expect device management solutions to enforce authentication, including biometric and two-factor authentication, to prevent unauthorised access to valuable corporate data and documents. They should also expect full device storage encryption to ensure sensitive company information residing on mobile devices in the field is as secure as data on an office-based workstation.
At a physical level, IoT devices should also be trackable and wipeable in case they are lost or stolen while the wireless access and the network connection must remain constantly private and secure.
Step 3: Simplicity
It is estimated that 90% of all data has been created in the past two years. The sheer volume of data available to us is mind-boggling and intellectually crippling if it is not quickly understood and processed.
Similarly, enterprises must efficiently filter and interpret the data they capture. Businesses should take deliberate stock with specialist data analysts and mobility management providers, and evaluate the types of data they have – what insights can they gain, and how will these distinguish them?
It also requires trial and error; the process to enlightenment and differentiation is iterative. It is madness to jump into this sea of data and try to swim; it is far better to build a vessel on dry land, test it in the shallows, and then to guide it towards new horizons. Once the boat has been constructed and set afloat, the main navigation can be automated with periodic check-ups to master the course.
Human input is essential from the beginning and throughout, but the latest data analytics and machine learning engines can lighten the load – especially as the sea widens with the flood of new data from new ‘things’.
For enterprises entering uncharted waters, it is important to not only ‘think big’ but also to retain intensely close attention to detail. Their approaches need to be correct for their strategy and market.
Trying to achieve too much can end up being counterproductive; the real value from IoT lies in doing the smaller things well and building on that. Companies which refuse to take these precautionary measures will find themselves drowning in data. By focusing on integration, device management and interpreting data, businesses can avoid falling adrift and ride the wave of success.
Sourced by Nassar Hussain, managing director of SOTI Europe
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