To connect or not to connect: 4 areas to examine before getting into IoT

  • Before launching an IoT project, look beyond strategies that advocate connecting everything.

  • For every potential IoT deployment, consider its business purpose, technology impact, security and privacy issues, and industry-specific concerns.

  • The Internet of Things has emerged as a force with potential for both tremendous wealth and risk.

Predictions about the number of devices that will be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020 differ wildly, ranging anywhere from 1.9 billion to as high as 50 billion. But regardless of which forecast proves to be accurate, every estimate is staggering.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the annual economic impact of IoT will land somewhere between $2.7 trillion and $6.2 trillion by 2025. Most enterprises will share in the growth, as IoT is poised to affect almost every segment of the economy.

Companies accustomed to dealing with disruptive technologies are already prepared to take advantage of IoT. Available tool sets make it relatively easy to “IoTize” many products. But you should look beyond the strategies that advocate connecting everything.

Here are four areas to assess when considering an IoT project:

1. Business purpose. There are plenty of reasons for making a product intelligent, but every innovation must be measured against the effort required and resources consumed to identify a realistic return on investment. The urge to jump on the train that might lead to a portion of that predicted $6 trillion should be tempered against a realistic assessment.

2. Technology impact. As the number of connected devices explodes, so will the unexpected consequences. It’s obvious that there will be more data requiring increased storage and analytic processing, but issues like updates and maintenance, end-of-life management, and many unknowns will demand attention. And sometimes that attention may be time-critical because of liability or regulatory demands.

3. Security and privacy. Deploying connected devices inside enterprises, homes, vehicles, and other places means that sensors transmit data from those locations. Sharing that data is crucial if it’s meant to detect problems and help provide customers with better service. But the pace of development and persistence of hackers means that at least some data streams could be breached. Given that the security of data is critical to privacy, organizations must put the security of their IoT-connected devices at the top of the list as systems are developed and deployed.

4. Sector-specific issues. The industry you’re in makes a difference in what kind of impact IoT projects will have on your operations. Businesses selling anything that is 3D printed will likely track those goods using sensors that are layered in during manufacturing. Businesses using virtual reality, meanwhile, will include IoT-connected objects in many virtual-reality situations, driving further expansion of IoT.

The Internet of Things has emerged as a force with potential for both tremendous wealth and tremendous risk. Business leaders need to evaluate IoT the same way they assess any new technology while also recognizing its potency.

Read more about IoT security in The CEO’s guide to securing the Internet of Things. Also learn more about how AT&T’s IoT solutions can help you evaluate and implement your IoT deployment.

Scott Koegler is a technology journalist with a specialization on the intersection of business and technology. AT&T has sponsored this blog post and all opinions are his own.

Scott Koegler Writer Sponsored Post About Scott