How Businesses Can Safely Harness the Power of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is steadily becoming a huge disruptor in the world of business. With the ability to communicate with more devices, exchange and harness valuable data to inform business strategy, IoT can empower digital transformation throughout organisations.

We’re seeing an increase in the development of IoT mobile apps and solutions that can connect devices together — turning them into an IoT smart device. Two years from now, over 20 billion devices will be interconnected.

IoT is no longer just a buzzword but an actual disruptive technology adopted by industries globally with more investments set to further expand its growth.

According to PwC, 6 trillion US dollars will be spent on the Internet of Things from 2015–2020. Industries today are either exploring or already adopting IoT solutions to augment their business strategy.

 

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Source: PWC Leveraging the Upcoming Disruptions from AI and IO

 

How the Internet of Things Is Reshaping Industries Today

There are many industries today that already use IoT to improve day-to-day operations, enhance customer relationships, and promote new products and services. On a global scale, it’s bound to boost productivity and competitiveness in organisations and countries.

In a previous post, we talked about the new opportunities presented by IoT to businesses and industries. IoT has brought on the emergence of new business models and applications, bigger savings from process automation and optimisation, better precision, and decision-making.

According to a Forbes report, “Refining the customer experiences (70%) and enabling safety (56%) are two domains enterprises have been using IoT solutions for today. Attaining cost efficiencies, bettering the organization abilities, and gaining the supply chain visibility (53%) are the three most common uses of data that is generated using IoT solutions.”

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Here are the top five ways IoT is reshaping industries today.

 

Data Sharing and Analytics

Analytics has been tagged as the key to the success of IoT. It has transformed how data is shared today, adding business value to organisations that have the ability to harness essential customer or user data.

Today, IoT technology can collect, track, and analyse patterns in consumer behaviour or even how devices perform, which can be used to develop more efficient systems that offer a better user experience.

In sales and marketing, IoT data and analytics tools make for a better understanding of how, where, and why your products are being purchased so you can tailor your marketing strategy effectively towards your target audience.

Through it all, the potential to share valuable data and analytics can lead to more connected organisations and better business growth for everyone.

 

Process Optimisation

Because IoT devices can be connected to a bigger network, you can turn tools of the trade into smart devices that allows you to collect important data. With the opportunity to harness useful data, you can easily identify common bottlenecks in your process that can lead to better productivity and efficiency and cut the length of time it takes to do common tasks. This also minimises error significantly.

Manufacturing industries can add IoT sensors to equipment to keep track of its execution making for timely maintenance, repairs, and better overall system performance.

In healthcare, Microsoft’s IOT Healthcare solutions are improving and transforming patient care as we know it, giving patients access to predictive healthcare anywhere in the world through wearable sensors. It can also be used to track medical assets and equipment usage for predictive maintenance, helping health institutions to save on millions in costs. 

 

Competitive Advantage and Growth

IoT will help push for the adoption of digital technologies across different industries which can lead to better operational efficiency, create new revenue and business models, and promote an overall better customer experience.

 

Remote Work

IoT technology is set to change how work is done with employees having the ability to connect and work from anywhere through smart devices. As a result, employee productivity increases, which helps boost business functions. 

 

Better Inventory Tracking and Management

IoT technology can help you track and manage inventory conveniently through the use of IoT sensors and smart devices that can be added to packages, delivery vehicles, warehouses, and other storage units. Without having to deal with inventory, employees are freed up to focus on other more important tasks.

 

IoT Threats and the Road to Better Security

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The Internet of Things can add so much value through the launch of new business models and applications and the ability to harness valuable data.  

But this too can expose more industries to advance security issues that may be hard to anticipate as the reach of IoT technologies can be far ranging — from new smart devices, sensors, monitors, and even autonomous machines.

Businesses continue to find security vulnerabilities as their top IoT concern. And to address this, organisations need to focus on operational security, software updates, and address vulnerable communication protocols, and other current practices that may be exposing them to additional risk.

 

Below are the top IoT threats and security issues that businesses need to closely look into if they are to make the best use of what IoT has to offer.

 

Device Security

Software security is one of the biggest threats to IoT. As we see more and more connected devices, what were once closed and secure systems become readily accessible via remote control and become more at risk from today’s security threats.

With IoT technology enabling more smart devices such as sensors and cameras to seamlessly connect, the possibility of unknowingly bringing insecure devices into your network increases.

 

Lack of Software Updates

With more devices to worry about, it is crucial to keep track of all of them and make sure they have all the security and software patches needed. Having an insecure device in your network that has internet access is a security risk waiting to happen, with cyber criminals able to use them as entry points to access your company’s bigger data network.  

 

Complex Communication Protocols

Because IoT enables smart devices to connect and exchange data, maintaining IoT’s various communication protocols can be a security challenge. It may also be difficult to find the right team to implement and maintain them. IoT’s communication protocols can range from the advance such as MQTT, CoAP, Bluetooth, Wifi, Zigbi, and many more. Keeping up with all of them and addressing issues that may come up can be particularly challenging especially when you have a big network of devices involved.

 

Managing Authentication

Because the IoT framework is fairly new, the current lack of universal standards may prove to be a challenge in terms of managing user authentication and accessibility to a broad network of devices having access to so much data.

 

Privacy and Data Breaches

IoT solutions have the capacity to collect and analyse large amounts of detailed and valuable data. Not having the capacity to handle this correctly can be risky for many enterprises.

With the entry of new devices gaining access to a giant network, protecting private data in the IoT age will be a challenge that organisations need to target first and foremost. An insecure device can easily give hackers entry to your entire network, where it can access all sensitive user data and private company information.

With the GDPR and Australia’s mandatory notifiable data breach laws in full effect, organisations have even more to worry about to ensure user data is kept safe and protected at all times.

 

Creating an IoT Security Strategy

The successful deployment of IoT is largely dependent on organisations taking a proactive approach to addressing these security threats. And to do this, they first need to believe that the overall benefits and opportunities IoT presents to industries today outweighs the potential risks.

It is crucial that business leaders look into their current security measures and check for viability and readiness in implementing IoT. How do they collect, manage, and store their data? What current security practices are helping them up their game against data and privacy breaches? All of these are questions that need clear answers to create applicable solutions and an IoT security strategy that can address its biggest threats.

The right security strategy can allow the safe deployment of IoT throughout the organisation while protecting important business assets. Since IoT works to integrate all aspects of security, businesses must work hard to think about an IOT strategy that explores threats to cybersecurity, technological, physical, and operational components.

Creating an IoT security and deployment team that can simulate IoT-specific breaches and do risk assessments that predict possible threats is essential to mitigating the possibility of IoT security breaches and other unexpected scenarios upon implementation.  

 

The IoT Data Security Takeaway

We’re more interconnected now than we’ve ever been, but with this comes a big challenge. As systems become more readily accessible, a bigger threat in IoT security comes with it, and it is a reality that businesses need to actively prepare for.

IoT can be the first step towards digital transformation in any enterprise. And as more industries start adopting IoT as an indelible part of their business strategy, these smart devices go a long way in strengthening their automation efforts for better efficiency.  But by working to establish a secure framework beforehand and the development of a solid IoT security approach, there is no stopping businesses from deploying IoT and using it to further empower their digital transformation strategy.

 

Are you thinking of adopting digital technology in your business to be one step  ahead of the competition? Get in touch with us today and we'll help you explore  these options.

 

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