Embracing IoT in 2015

  • Making the most of IoT/M2M services means learning from the past and looking for groundbreaking opportunities.

  • Consider the possible applications, security, and communications.

  • Explore ways to reinvent business operations.

Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communication refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same type. Smart business leaders in 2015 will continue to look for opportunities to create and leverage services that will make the most of these fully connected devices.

Think Bluetooth®,  for example. When Bluetooth emerged in 2001, its “personal-area network” capabilities were touted as a groundbreaking opportunity to create intelligent clusters of devices that would combine to be much greater than the sum of their parts. Bluetooth offered an excellent solution to cutting cords among devices and peripherals, which led to a revolution in wireless devices such as mobile headsets and computer keyboards. However, the technology so far has remained focused on wireless convenience, falling short of promises of intelligent clusters. That’s why businesses and IT leaders need to look beyond cord-cutting when planning IoT/M2M adoption.

Stake a leadership position on IoT/M2M

Leaders can begin by focusing on what matters most—the opportunity for sophisticated negotiation among widespread networks of intelligent machines. That’s fundamentally a matter of strategy and vision, not one of technology. That is good news from a budgetary and resource allocation standpoint, because it means there is no major architectural requirement to prepare for successful IoT/M2M adoption. A comprehensive IPv6 strategy will lay the groundwork for smooth M2M integration, as wider and more varied classes of connectable devices vie for address space. Take a further look here.

Security policies and strategies must be put into focus. Machine-to-machine adoption will be inhibited if it is cumbersome to connect embedded and often headless devices with limited or no visible user controls to the network. This creates greater incentive for strong but seamless authentication systems. For business users, authentication plans for M2M devices should include giving those devices access to relevant business, social, and activity applications, such as internal instant message and customer interaction feeds.

Leaders will have to be aware of a growing class of connected devices that will be ready to communicate directly with the public Internet, rather than rely on a purpose-built gateway or personal device hub such as a smartphone. Fewer firewalls between your intelligent devices and your trading partners mean more opportunities to make instantaneous, value-added business decisions. But the model also exposes more devices to the threats of the public Internet, so security measures must be considered and implemented.

Endless possibilities with IoT/M2M

Leaders need to start thinking about how machine-to-machine device communication can radically change business operations. A smart shelf that knows how to order an out-of-stock item is convenient, but not revolutionary. Machine-to-machine communication can enable much more complex transactions. Instead of flagging a reorder of a single part from a single supplier, consider a smart shelf that automatically orders entire kits, sourced from multiple marketplaces in real time to locate the best worldwide price—all without human interaction.

Above all, get ready to embrace the IoT/M2M journey as we learn the true possibilities—not unlike the first few years of the Web—a time when no one truly understood exactly what a world full of connected desktops could mean. The real key to IoT/M2M success is to remain open to the possibilities and every connection that presents itself.


Jason Compton is an internationally published writer and reporter with extensive experience in enterprise technologies, including marketing, sales, service, and collaboration. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

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