The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining momentum across industries as organizations strive to compete using data. Gartner estimates by 2020, 25 billion connected "things" will be in use. Whether the knowledge comes from weather monitors out in the field or wearables, companies are getting insights that were previously not possible and achieving new levels of automation. The question is whether the devices are enterprise ready.
"Enterprises adopting IoT devices have to support enterprise standards with authentication, encryption, and protocols," said Andy Beier, director of engineering at BI software vendor Domo, in an interview. "The greatest barrier to IoT data flow is that these devices are not created with an enterprise standard, making it more difficult for companies to benefit."
Even when IoT devices are built for enterprise use, there's no guarantee they'll work together. In smart commercial buildings, for example, different manufacturers are working to get their devices to communicate via APIs or an orchestration platform, but the process isn't necessarily plug-and-play or any-to-any simple yet.
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"It's still very early. We've laid the framework of individual things, and the challenge is hooking all this stuff up," said Craig Macy, CEO intelligent building platform provider Onstream, in an interview. "Devices need to interconnect and interoperate. Can the Internet help? Maybe, and maybe not."
Clearly, there are security concerns as each new device potentially exposes a new point of entry for a hacker. According to Timothy Francis, enterprise lead for cyber-insurance at Travelers Insurance, it's possible to exploit smart glasses, wireless identity authenticators, or smartwatches for purposes of intercepting signals, engaging in corporate espionage, or shutting down an e-commerce site, respectively.
"As this technology evolves and becomes more sophisticated in the way it harnesses and transmits tiny bits of data, so must the security protocols that preserve confidentiality and protect the device from being hacked directly," said Francis, in an interview.
To minimize wearable security issues, Travelers advises businesses to look for certain features in the wearables they allow or require employees to wear. Those features include custom security levels, a remote erase feature, Bluetooth encryption, encryption of critical data elements, and cloud security.
But the IoT involves far more than wearables, so consider these additional points.