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Be IoT Ready: a CIO’s checklist

Shweta RaoShweta Rao

As IoT continues to disrupt the market, CIOs have begun to step up and embrace the changes. But to be truly relevant, IT leaders must prepare themselves to understand IOT. Here’s a checklist you can follow to bring your organization up to speed with Internet of Things.

How soon will IoT disrupt my business?Image-1
The question is not whether IoT will disrupt your business. The real question is when. By 2020, the world will host 50 billion connected things, and this wave will disrupt various industries including healthcare, retail, automobile, tourism and manufacturing. And for every application the technology has in each of these sectors, there are many benefits which they might not be able to predict at present.

 

Image-2                                                                                                                                                                        What startups are already brewing in my industry?

Do a thorough market research and see how competitors are gearing up for this change. Besides competition, also, keep an eye on upcoming startups within your industry that are more likely to include IoT as an integral part of their business model.

Where and how can I hire an IoT talent?Image-3

Your current team sure has skills, but working with Internet of Things is a different ball game.  Analytics lie at the heart of IoT, and you’ll need a team which is proficient with mining, analyzing and interpreting data. Having a talent strategy is important. Know what kind of skills you need at the moment and how many.

 

Plan a hiring budget. Start by recruiting top-level executives, who can then hire a team using their network. Or choose to create your talent pool by training your current team for IoT skills. Several leading analytical firms are practicing this. According to a recent study conducted by A.T. Kearny, most companies prefer to build talent from within. The idea is to embed analytics in the DNA of the organization, and creating cross-disciplinary teams is one of the best ways of implementing this, an approach Penn Medicine practices for all its big data projects.

Another way is to hire fresh graduates and train them. Organizations are building strong industry-university partnerships through summer internships and other initiatives. Some firms are also helping colleges in designing their curriculum to gain access to fresh talent that’s industry-ready. These junior hires, who already come with an analytical bend of mind, can be trained for customized skills and prove valuable over a long term.

Image-4What IT changes (policy and technical) do I need to make?
Other than bringing a significant shift in your talent acquisition strategy, introducing IoT will also have an impact on your organization’s IT both regarding policies and technology.

First, it’s clear that connecting your enterprise completely to the web would mean making significant changes in your IT policy. You may want to extend on your BYOD policy if you have one in place, but there’s more ground to cover. For instance, you should explicitly list down device authentication measures or regulations for preventing new sources from crowding the network.

Implementing IoT means it would involve the exchange of an enormous amount of data. So, having high data privacy policies in place is also crucial. Will the data help in making better business decisions? Or establishing better health insurance regulations for employees? You’ll also need to ramp up digital security as sophisticated denial of service attacks are already a ground reality.

Device management will demand more attention. Lay out crystal clear policies that control a number of devices allowed per employee, where the connected devices reside on existing network or access controls for a new network setup.

If you want the developers to be as ready for IoT as they would be for any new technology deployment, get your team to take employee training seriously. Get them acquainted with the terminology. Brief them about the types of apps you may work on, the SLAs that may be required, and the emerging laws and regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation implemented by the European Union. Get them to dirty their hands by working on pilot projects. Online training sites like Axelta, Tonex and Experfy simplify the process and bring your employees up to speed with Internet of Things.

Image-5What infrastructure changes do I need to make?

Start with the network coverage and bandwidth capacity. More devices would mean more data. Are your enterprise servers prepared for the extra load? While most IoT implementations operate via the cloud, they might place some local storage and processing demands on your servers. How will you handle the local data cache? Will you need to set up more data warehouses? Will you need a different database management software?

Considering the various data forms different devices may process, you will need to set up new, agile storage infrastructures. Besides, you’ll need to establish better systems to monitor and track the devices and the data they generate, i.e. improved insight analysis. These will be time-sensitive platforms that’ll be capable of handling real-time information in a sophisticated manner.

Image-6How Should the Management Scale Up to Get Ready for IoT?

It might not be easy, but your enterprise’s decision making, and boardroom procedures will have to change as much as its infrastructure and talent. The responsibility to drive the management to step up and define IoT objectives lies on you.

What is it that you want to achieve as an organization utilizing IoT? Does the technology have the potential to help you solve an existing business challenge? Answering these questions will help you define the role IoT will play in redefining your business.

John Deere is an excellent case study in this case. For decades, the company has been selling tractors that make farming scalable and profitable. But with IoT, the company has now been able to realize the importance of providing its customers with access to critical data. John Deere added data connectivity to its tractors since 2012. It has now made selling data as much a part of its business model by helping farmers make informed decisions about what are the most profitable crops.

Having a bird’s eye view of your enterprise’s future needs will take you a long way while considering the integration of Internet of Things with your business. Connect with trading partners, internal as well external, to build a vision that innovatively incorporates IoT, and evaluate the direct and indirect costs of carrying forward this innovation. Work with your business partners to develop a business case, a governance structure and a strategic roadmap to guide your enterprise’s’ efforts to embrace the Internet of Things.

These considerations can help you prepare for the good, bad and ugly of Internet of Things while leveraging most out of it. Have you incorporated IoT within your enterprise vision lately? How has your experience been? Let us know in the comments below.