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IoT Shows Its Worth To Businesses

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be used for a diverse set of tasks, including opening up new business models. A recent Forrester report explores how businesses are embracing IoT.

IoT 2016: 13 Hot Trends For Business
IoT 2016: 13 Hot Trends For Business
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses so many different aspects of technology that it defies easy explanation. To achieve some measure of clarity, research consultancy Forrester in a recent report advises businesses to focus on specific use cases that relate to their strategy and goals.

IoT can be thought of as the inverse of augmented reality. AR maps digital information onto a visual representation of the real world. IoT makes real world metrics available to digital systems. The Internet of Things enables the measurement of real world events, measurement that can be used to improve business operations.

The potential uses for IoT systems are diverse. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to Bloomberg, Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Stores, talked about IoT as a tool to combat climate change. For German dairy farmer Steffen Hake, IoT means connected cows. He uses SCR Dairy's Heatime tags to monitor the fertility and health of his livestock.

(Image: Pixabay)

(Image: Pixabay)

Sensors allow companies to enhance the way customers experience their products, to monitor the performance of machinery and predict maintenance needs, to manage product utilization and personnel allocation, to enhance security, and to address regulatory requirements.

But there's more to IoT than turning physical things into digital instruments. IoT can open up new business models. As an example, Forrester points to Kaeser Compressors, which by adding sensors to its industrial air compressors has been able to offer compressed-air-as-a-service to customers who prefer not to maintain their own machinery.

For businesses, such measurement can help optimize costs, if properly implemented. Take the case of marine product distributor Land 'N' Sea. According to Forrester, the firm uses Navman Wireless fleet tracking system to monitor its fleet of delivery trucks and its warehouses. By identifying the most efficient delivery routes and optimizing the timing of pickups and deliveries, Land 'N' Sea cut its monthly fuel bill by $14,000 and its overtime costs by $2,000 per week.

Enterprises have caught on to the potential value of IoT already, while smaller companies show similar levels of interest but less progress in terms of implementation. Among 1,755 enterprise decision makers surveyed last year by Forrester, 23% said their firms were already using IoT applications while 29% said they were planning to do so. Among 1,582 SMB decision makers, 14% said they were using IoT applications and 26% expressed the intent to do so.

[Read IoT Raises New Legal Challenges For Business.]

While there's clearly growing interest in IoT, it's equally evident why many firms have moved with caution. Integration with traditional infrastructure and operations can be a challenge due to lack of standards. "There is nothing like the market norms and industry standards of data center, PC, or mobile device technology," Forrester's report explains. "And it's not getting better soon."

The same can be said about IoT security. When security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain, increasing the size of the chain just adds more points of potential failure. Among the business leaders surveyed by Forrester, the top concern was security (34%), followed by deployment cost (30%), and integration challenges (28%).

Researchers at Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy recently looked at several popular consumer IoT devices for smart home applications and found them wanting. An IoT report from HP Enterprise last year is similarly grim (unless, like HP, you happen to be in the security business). Enterprise customers may be able to expect a bit more security out of the box, but it wouldn't be wise to assume any IoT device is secure. So, proceed with caution.

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
2/8/2016 | 8:38:39 AM
Easy to explain
> IoT can be thought of as the inverse of augmented reality. AR maps digital information onto a > visual representation of the real world. IoT makes real world metrics available to digital systems. This is one of the easier explanations I've found of the difficult to explain IoT term. Thanks. Will use it to explain to my non-techie colleagues. I regularly use an alternate one: When things talk to each other
User Rank: Ninja
1/25/2016 | 2:43:19 PM
Security on its own should not be used as an excuse to delay IoT Adoption.
There is no doubt that the All-encompassive nature of IoT means that there will be more intensive Security demands going ahead on basic IT Infrastructure as well as all those who access the data.

But the important thing to note is that Security on its own should not be used as an Excuse to delay implementation of IoT especially in areas where it could be an absolute Game-changer.

After all,when one goes at how exhibitionist most Online Consumers have become today;Great article published in the Intercept yesterday on this

So many folks have just gotten used to the notion that they have Zero Privacy Online currently(and security is most definitely a function of that feature-set is'nt it)?

I mean if you want Security,you have to want Privacy as well and vice versa.
User Rank: Ninja
1/25/2016 | 1:53:09 PM
Re: Security for Sure

The Big difference betwen IoT and Standard IT services probably revolves around the Volume of Data generated and of course the fact that you need such a massive and scaled out Infrastructure which should be ready to pickup and filter Relevant Information whenever it is generated all across the System.

This system has to have the Unique ability to Power itself Up and Down(The kind of Low power Tech we are talking about has also not been seen too much in most IT Networks so far) depending on whenever and wherever it recieves important information.

There will have to be changes in how the Data is processed as well.
Jason Lebrecht
Jason Lebrecht,
User Rank: Moderator
1/24/2016 | 8:07:28 PM
Security for Sure
IoT is no different than standard IT Services, all must be protected with Security process, procedure, personnel and technology.


Jason Lebrecht
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