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How to Prepare Your Enterprise for Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Automation in the Workplace

There’s a lot that your workplace needs to do to prepare for IoT and automation. Enterprises need to clearly understand their business needs and how IoT and automation can give them real value. Furthermore, enterprises also need to take several security measures when incorporating IoT because the risk of a data breach is particularly high with unsecured IoT networks.

In this article, we discuss how to prepare your enterprise for IoT and automation in the workplace.

1. Data Analytics and Edge Computing

Edge computing, also known as fog computing, is a computing method in which various applications are controlled at the network edge either in a smart device or in a remote data center. As such, all data is processed and analyzed at the edge, which enables real-time data analysis and smooth decision-making. This is the best solution for enterprises with a vast network of connected IoT devices, specifically in industries related to transportation, smart buildings, energy, etc. It’s also crucial to invest in security at the edge to protect the entire IoT network.

 

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2. Reviewing Live Use Cases

To truly understand the value of IoT and its implementation, your business needs to critically review real use cases of Internet-of-Things applications in related fields and organizations. IoT is a pretty broad field and it can help different industries in different ways, which is why your organization needs to collect feedback from IoT use within the same industry.

You can evaluate IoT implementation to examine how well it can increase your return on investments, your company’s efficiency and productivity, customer service, minimize downtime, etc. It can often be difficult to justify the true value of IoT to the executive team of any organization — which is why it’s necessary to explore relevant case studies. IoT decisions aren’t always made by IT departments — in some cases, the decision-makers may also be the customer support team if IoT is being implemented to enhance the customer experience.

To better understand IoT implementations, it can be valuable to attend relevant conferences and ask your IoT vendors to showcase examples of IoT use within your industry. Once you have a clear handle on how IoT can be implemented and how it can help your enterprise in specific ways, you’ll be a lot more capable of implementing it within your organization.

3. Collecting Actionable Data

It’s tempting to collect all the data you can draw from every smart device available, however, it’s not wise to collect data just for the sake of collecting data. Collecting data without a clear plan can lead to massive redundancies and inconveniences. First, there’s the bandwidth concern regarding data collection. Second, collecting too much unnecessary data obscures the useful data you need to take specific actions. As such, you should only focus on collecting data that can help you take action, be it providing alerts, making product decisions, securing assets, or triggering other relevant actions.

You need to strategically think about your organization and the industry in which you operate. This will allow you to better understand what kind of data you’re already collecting and how you can use that data. This, in turn, will help you separate the useless data from the valuable data. Once you complete this evaluation, your team will be able to communicate your data needs to your IoT vendor.

4. Embracing the Complexity

Internet of Things integration can be extremely complex. It essentially makes it so that it’s not just your phones and computers that are on the internet but your entire company’s ecosystem. All machines and devices you use in the company are connected to each other and to the internet. While this can be really beneficial, it can also lead to high levels of complexity, security risks, and other problems.

Most executives and stake-holders, especially those who aren’t well-versed in IoT-related processes, hear about these complications and they often get cold feet. However, IoT and automation have various advantages and benefits that make the technologies of the future. Instead of fearing the complexities, your enterprise needs to embrace them.

5. Investments and Expenses

When it comes to implementing IoT, one of the primary concerns for any business would be the cost and expenses involved. This includes the cost of automation and optimization, costs of data, security costs, hardware cost, and various other unpredictable costs of implementation. More so than the expense, businesses are usually averse to unpredictability. As such, IoT vendors should create more stable cost structures and predictions. But businesses should also be open to unpredictable costs.

In addition to the hardware and additional expenses, some businesses also have to handle legacy costs. Businesses that have legacy applications and technologies that aren’t suitable for IoT implementation. If that’s the case, you’ll have to prepare and upgrade your entire infrastructure to integrate IoT functionality.

6. Security

The Internet-of-Things is an exciting ecosystem in which all of your technologies and devices are connected to each other and to a central network, which allows them to interact with each other. But this also raises serious security concerns. If a single device in the network gets breached, it can expose and threaten the entire company’s online infrastructure.

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According to research, 21% of the companies with IoT implementation suffered a data breach in 2018. Businesses need to be extremely proactive when it comes to taking security measures to protect their organization. The following are some IoT security tips that all enterprises should consider.

Taking Risks Seriously

Several businesses and enterprises often don’t take cybercrime seriously. Instead, they just hope that nothing happens and only take action once there’s a massive data breach. With IoT, you need to understand that attempted data breach is merely an eventuality, so you have to be proactive. Furthermore, an IoT breach doesn’t just affect the online space but also the physical world. For example, hackers can access and control smart cars through an IoT data breach, which can have serious physical-world implications.

Assessing all Connected Devices

Businesses should also do a complete inventory of all of their connected devices and only make sure you are connecting devices that need to be. If you connect additional devices, they only represent an added security risk. Some businesses also connect their vendor or clients’ devices and then forget about them. This essentially gives external parties complete access over your IoT network, which can lead to vulnerabilities and privacy issues.

Separate Security Architecture

Most businesses have security devices like security cameras, but they connect these security devices to the primary network. As such, if someone hacks into your IoT network, they can essentially gain access to the security camera and use it against your organization. Instead, such security devices should be connected into a separate security architecture.

Conclusion

Implementing Internet-of-Things and automation into your workplace is a massive decision that you shouldn’t take it lightly. Going through the implementation is sure to be expensive and it will open you up to challenges and threats you couldn’t have even foreseen. That’s why it’s necessary to thoroughly assess your IoT needs and proceed carefully so you can maximize productivity and minimize damages or inconveniences. You should also take the security of your IoT network seriously because a data breach at any point in your network exposes your entire organization. But if you are simply mindful and incorporate the necessary security measures, you’ll be able to implement IoT perfectly and maximize your ROI from it.

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