The Internet of Things is taking the world by storm, and savvy CIOs are already paying attention. That’s because the Internet of Things is already saving businesses money, which raises their profitability. As a result it makes sense for CIOs to review what the Internet of Things can offer to their businesses. A recent report by Intel showed that smart devices developed under the Internet of Things umbrella area already track inventory, manage machines and increase efficiency in businesses all over the world. There are already many different Internet of Things solutions that could be saving your business money and making it more efficient, and as CIO you are able to make this happen by introducing your organisation to these incredible developments. The following video done by Intel, gives us an overview of the contribution of the Internet Of Things in our digital days .
Writing for CIO magazine in 2013, Pat Brans states that: “According to the IDC, by the end of 2020, approximately 212 billion ‘things’ will be connected”.
This is simply too big of a development concern for CIOs to ignore, and so they must think about this area, and fast. They should think about how it can add value to their businesses and how it can increase productivity, reduce waste and optimise operational activity. The Internet of Things already provides solutions in all of these areas, and CIOs that are unaware of them may be being negligent in their duty to advise their organisations of them.
According to a 2010 report by McKinsey there are broadly six different applications of the Internet of Things and these occur across two different categories which are Information and Analysis and Automation and Control. In the Information and Analysis category, the first is the tracking of behaviour. The behaviour of people, things and data in time and space can be tracked, according to McKinsey. This includes opportunities such as presence-based advertising and supply chain monitoring and management improvements. The second is enhanced situational awareness where McKinsey explains that real time awareness of the surrounding environment can be achieved. The third is sensor-driven decision analytics. This is used to optimise human decision making through improved analysis and data visualisation. An example given by McKinsey is the monitoring of chronic diseases which can provide feedback to doctors which can help in choosing the best treatments.
In the second category of automation and control, the first area is process optimisation, which is explained by McKinsey to be used for automated control of systems. This can aid production lines by helping to improve them through adjustments that can be implemented more rapidly. The second is optimised resource consumption. In particular these are thought to be useful for optimising resources across networks. Smart meters can be used, and data centre management can optimise areas like processor use, all of which can save the business money. Finally complex autonomous systems can also be used, and these provide automated control in open environments. This is considered to be more risky, but anyway is under development. Examples are when car systems are able to detect objects and apply the brakes accordingly.
The Internet of Things is not without its risks and according to Al Sacco, writing for CIO magazine in 2014, the “Internet of Things is as ‘Scary as Hell’” in the eyes of Jerry Irvine, the CIO of Prescient Solutions and a member of the National Cybersecurity Partnership. That’s because the Internet of Things is adding Internet into devices and Irvine argues that there is very little security that is associated with this. This leaves devices in the home and the workplace open to being hacked quite easily. For example, it was reported in the news that a smart toilet was vulnerable to a security hack. This leaves a toilet open to being repeatedly flushed by a hacker, having its lid opened and closed randomly or activating bidet functions at inopportune moments.
While the example might seem comical, the cost to that user could be very significant in water fees, and anyway, it’s not so much about the hacked flushing toilet, but the security risks more generally that some Internet of Things solutions may leave your business open to. This means while solutions offered by the Internet of Things should most definitely be considered by CIOs, there should be a careful assessment of the potential security risks that such devices might leave the business open to.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.