If someone at your organization hasn’t already asked how your business can plug into the Internet of Things, it’s only a matter of time before they do given the volume of rhetoric around the value of machine-to-machine interconnection. Thus, figuring out the best way to grandfather the rising technology of IoT into your core business and infrastructure may seem daunting.
That doesn’t have to be the case. CIOs can harness the most promising capabilities of IoT by sticking to three guiding principles:
• Be willing to experiment
• Don’t go it alone
• Don’t try to solve all your problems at once.
To back up for a moment, it’s important for organizations not to fall into the common trap of either trivializing IoT or viewing it as a cure-all. Neither one is right, and CIOs are ideally positioned to find a middle ground and help their companies understand and adopt the benefits of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication. IoT is more than a buzzword and less than a panacea, but there’s no question it can deliver efficiencies, improve operations and reduce costs when applied to a wide variety of organizations in targeted way.
Those benefits are only going to grow over time and become a competitive edge as IoT takes off. The automotive sector, an early IoT adopter, is a good barometer of how machine-to-machine technology has changed how cars function and what consumers expect of them. IoT has effectively deepened customers’ relationships with their cars, whether via real-time map displays that ease navigation, entertainment delivery, or diagnostics that improve safety and reduce maintenance costs. Customers now expect their cars to be connected and increasingly factor that in to their purchasing decisions.
At the same time, Fiat Chrysler’s recall of 1.4 million vehicles in the wake of a successful auto hack by two researchers underscores rising expectations that IoT must incorporate appropriate security. The recall came days after reports that cyber security researchers used a wireless connection to turn off a Jeep Cherokee’s engine while the car was being driven on a highway. The need to protect M2M communications and secure IoT software against cyber intrusion is a given, but that’s a broader topic deserving of its own article.
The focus here is on the approach CIOs should take to most effectively adopt the power of IoT, regardless of their sector. It starts with the first principle of being willing to experiment.
In practice, that means starting with something that matters, such as a key choke point or recurring cause for concern, and developing a pilot project around it. Identify one key problem to solve and develop a proof of concept to test against it before going ‘all in’ on a solution.
The oil and gas industry, for example, monitors supply chains with sensors to detect leaks as early as possible. With a little imagination, the potential to collect and analyze data with real impact is applicable to many other organizations: hospitals could deploy sensors to monitor expensive equipment to pre-empt maintenance problems; first responders to disasters and emergencies could be equipped with connected devices that would transmit data about smoke levels and temperature that could improve the safety of all involved. These and other applications of IoT can be tested and assessed through cost effective proofs of concept.