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The Internet of Things represents a significant shift in the way businesses use information. Rather than being restricted to devices and applications, networks are connecting to everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data. The IoT is still at a nascent stage of development, yet the potential impact is huge – and channel resellers can play a key role.
The trend is right at the peak of Gartner’s hype cycle for emerging technologies and businesses must identify the opportunities presented by IoT technologies. But taking advantage of the new age of connectivity will not be without its challenges. Security, storage and the requirement for real-time analytics present significant barriers.
So how can executives make the most of the IoT and how will it change the enterprise? The following article explores how leading providers and channel resellers can help businesses to make sense of the burgeoning IoT market.
Argus Insights recently revealed that there were more than 2.3 million mentions of IoT on Twitter between January and April 10. Social conversations, says the market research specialist, were heavily focused on big data, particularly in regards to information collection and security.
This research shows that, despite the amount of chatter, no single organisation has managed to take control of the market. While interest in the IoT is significant, there are many different definitions in regards to how the market will develop and how firms will take advantage of the technology.
As per IDC figures, global spending on the IoT market had already reached $1.9trn in 2013. The researcher predicts that level of spend will hit $7.1trn through 2020. By 2030, consultant Accenture suggests the global value created by the IoT could be as much as $15trn or above.
Additional research from Accenture suggests businesses already demonstrate a significant commitment to digital technology and are keen to explore the IoT. Enterprises can take advantage of IoT technologies to streamline their industry analysis and to more accurately develop marketing plans and consumer profiles. But while connectivity can bring great returns, it also creates challenges.
As more things join the network, so IT managers must manage an almost never-ending amount of devices and sensors. As more devices connected to the network and produce regular updates, so businesses must ensure their broadband networks can cope with the rise in demand.
Organisations will be inundated with information. Successful companies will use the specialist knowledge and experience of channel resources to help overcome the challenges of storing and analysing data in order to gain business insights.
Security is a pivotal issue for firms looking to make the most of the IoT. Any potential end point to the outside world is another potential entry point for hackers. As Esther Shein suggests, network management becomes crucial and businesses must invest in tools to monitor and audit connections. Partners with a strong awareness of standards, protocols and APIs will be key.
Storage also becomes a major concern. Internal systems will need to be strong in terms of both capacity and security if organisations are to cope with a deluge in data. Many organisations will turn to the cloud to help process IoT information, yet executives will need trusted partners who ensure data control controls exist and that processing complies with local laws and regulations.
One potential answer is distributed networking, which allows IT managers to take advantage of a cluster of compute, storage, and networking resources as they deal with the IoT. By taking advantage of such a distributed approach, businesses can create actionable insight from the data collected at the edge of their networks.
Trusted providers, such as Dell, have already joined organisations like the OpenFog Consortium, which is helping to create workable standards for this new form of distributed computing. Other open consortia exist, such as ThingWorx, which offers a platform to build and run applications in the connected world. Dell takes a pragmatic approach to the IoT by helping IT managers take advantage of the equipment and data that a business already owns and to enable analytics-driven action securely.
Mike Krell, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, recognises that acting on the huge amount of information produced through the IoT in real-time is no easy task. Yet pioneering developments in edge analytics can help businesses to gain a competitive lead. Krell says analysing information at the edge of the network – and he points to the new Edge Gateway 5000 Series as a key tool – provides a way to both steer and use information as effectively as possible.
The IoT remains a work in progress but it is clear that enterprise customers have a tremendous opportunity to create actionable insights from the data collected. The new age of connectivity raises many concerns around security, storage and analytics. But, by acting as a trusted partner and drawing on great technical solutions, channel resellers can help turn the IoT from a business challenge into a new opportunity.
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How IoT is changing the enterprise