It’s another new year and I’m sure by now we’re all tired of reading the same articles that get written every year about how the Internet of Things is coming to revolutionize life as you know it. We’ve seen this technology make inroads in large enterprise technology environments like manufacturing and medicine, as well as in countless consumer devices, but it’s never really been something to worry about for the SMB market space. Here’s a few reasons why 2016 could finally be the year IoT starts making real traction in tangible ways beyond letting you watch your dog at home from the office:
We often see technology target consumer and enterprise early adopters before hitting the mainstream mid market. Higher end storage devices have had proactive diagnostics for quite some time that will automate maintenance requests in the event of drive failures, etc. It only makes sense that this technology will trickle down into mainstream product lines. It really doesn’t matter what type of device you’re using, from a server to your coffee maker wouldn’t you like to know it needs maintenance before it develops an issue?
Costs are dropping. Wifi connectivity is everywhere and with the power of the cloud, the costs of collecting, collating, and reporting on your data are rapidly dropping. Every device you buy has always had countless sensors built into it but only now are the costs of transmitting and dealing with all those data points coming down into the range where it’s cost effective for businesses of all sizes to leverage these technologies.
Data is a new currency and some companies are even starting to track it as an asset on their balance sheets. The more data points you have to reference, the better analytics and reporting you can gather for your own business, or to learn more about your customers. It only makes sense that more and more devices are going to be reporting all types of usage statistics home in order to tell their manufacturers about your habits, and for them in turn to be able to present you with contextual information that helps you make informed decisions about your usage.
OK, so IoT is ramping up. What does this mean to me from a support perspective?
Scale. Once upon a time you only had workstations, servers, and printers touching your networks. Now if you check your average DHCP range I’m willing to bet in any given network you’re going to see at least 30% of your devices at any given time are secondary devices like phones, tablets, etc. Your telephone and alarm systems have network integration now. What’s your network going to look like when every new device your client buys wants a network connection? This has real security and performance implications for the networks we’re designing.
Security. We’re all familiar with patching computer products, but with all the new devices referenced above how good are manufacturers going to be at staying on top of patching vulnerabilities as they surface (because we know there WILL be vulnerabilities)? Who’s going to be responsible for keeping track of, and making sure there’s adequate password security for all the cloud portals that will be used to manage these devices?
Business analytics. All this data is going to be coming in from separate data sources, but without someone to help SMB clients leverage it, they’re not going to be able to make it contextual to their business. Our clients are going to need someone to help them bring these different data sources together to provide real meaning. Today that may not be us directly working with the APIs and writing reports, but we’d better at least be familiar with these technologies to the point where we’re ready to assist our clients when they’re looking for a partner that can help them put these pieces together.
At the end of the day IoT is really not about devices, it’s about data and what we can do with that data. The pace of innovation is ramping up, it’s a brave new world out there so rather than being scared of change let’s embrace it!