Organizations that are jumping on the Internet-of-Things (IoT) bandwagon might be biting more than they can chew without knowing it.
Developments in IoT promise to revolutionize how businesses approach many of their processes. Sensors and smart devices could help manufacturers track production progress and optimize workflows. Trackers could also help businesses secure their supply chains and inventories.
Smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home are also becoming the rage for many offices as their digital assistant functionalities can help users be more productive. IoT devices are also helping offices to go green through smart thermostats, lightbulbs, and appliances. To keep staff connected, more workplaces are also allowing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangements where workers are allowed to access work using their own smart devices.
However, what most overlook is that all these efforts can bring about a device deluge wherea flood of devices could suddenly overwhelm their organization.Left unchecked, this sudden increase in connected devices may degrade the quality of the network, disrupt productivity, and increase cybersecurity risks. Not only is it a network capacity issue but the increasing number of endpoints that they have to support can also become a workload issue.
Here are essential steps you can take to ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed by your own IoT efforts.
Many IT projects fail because adopters tend to focus on the technology and not their situation. When implementing IoT, be sure to identify the business reason why you’re doing it.
Focus on a business area where you think IoT would have the greatest impact.You may want to achieve a degree of efficiency in a particular area like decreasing the person hours dedicated to taking inventory of stocks or equipment. Or, you may want to see a five percent reduction in your monthly electricity bills. Knowing these would help you identify what specific IoT solutions you’d need.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make wide-scale implementations to make an impact. You can always start out small and seek out small wins for your initial attempts. This allows your organization to acclimate to the new technology. You can always scale up later.
All these devices must also be effectively accounted for and managed. Not only does your IT team have to whitelist and catalog the details of each of these devices but they also have to ensure that they are properly monitored, updated, and maintained.
This is where endpoint management tools would come in extremely handy. Cloud Management Suite(CMS), for instance, provides enterprises with means to efficiently manage devices connected to their networks. CMS helps IT teams perform remote administration and even automated software patching on both conventional endpoints like laptops and desktops and IoT devices as well.
Just because these devices are “smart” doesn’t mean that you can leave them unattended. Cybercriminalsare constantly coming up with new ways to exploit IoT devices, and an unpatched IoT device is usually an easy target. Keeping devices supervised and up-to-date helps minimize the risk of exploits from lingering in your network, especially if your workplace allows employees to access work using their own smart device.
Having an endpoint management tool to quickly manage and automatically patch your devices will minimize the additional workload that IoT devices will demand from your IT team, and easily prevent grave data breaches that could do massive damage to your organization.
Prepare Your Infrastructure
You should also take stock of the state of your infrastructure prior to deploying new devices. You have to be able to plot what kinds of devices you will be using, where these will be situated, and what kind of computing and network resources they would require to function.
You may have to update or upgrade your networking equipment such as hubs, routers, and access points. Devices such as IP cameras would contribute to higher throughput passing through the network so you may have to up your capacity to be able to support such demand. You may even have to increase your subscribed internet connection. These devices may compete for bandwidth result in a degradation of the quality of everyone’s connections.
If you are also gathering data from your IoT devices as part of your big data initiatives, then keep in mind that you also have to prepare storage for the data.Perhaps you may even have to add hardware or services to help pre-process or crunch the data.
Fortunately, hardware manufacturers have been anticipating this device deluge. Networking giant Cisco, for instance, has put IoT demand as a key consideration for its product development plans so solutions are available to address infrastructure needs.
Train Your Users
Besides working on your infrastructure, you should also keep in mind the people aspect of tech projects. You must educate and train your staff on the proper use of these new devices to perform their respective tasks. While other devices are designed to be automated or should work in the background, workers still need to be properly oriented on how they should co-exist with these devices.
Humans are often the ones to blame for security related incidences in enterprises. A Kaspersky report shows that almost half of incidences are caused by company employees. You wouldn’t want such issues to come about just because you skipped on training your staff.
Put in place well-defined policies on the proper use of your computing resources. Allowing BYOD doesn’t mean that you’d be allowing anyone to connect any device to your network. BYOD programs should have very clear terms. Devices must undergo some form of whitelisting to ensure that they aren’t introducing any risks to your infrastructure.
While training your users and educating them on the gravity of cyber security issues that arise from BYOT programs in an IoT environment, it’s always better to be on the safe side. Leave as little room as possible for human errors with an endpoint management solution as mentioned above, and prevent your employees from making mistakes that could open up a gateway for data breaches.
Proper Planning Helps
As they say, prevention is always better than a cure. IoT projects will inevitably have their complications but you may be able to minimize these potential problems through better preparation. By having a clear goal and a well-thought-out plan, you’d be in a good position to maximize the benefits that the technology brings rather than be stuck worrying about things like capacity, administration, and governance of these new devices.