The mobile, social web now includes millions of users, devices, and connections around the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) has added billions of devices and connections to the mix, and promises to continue to do so for some time to come. The number of connected devices today is already estimated to exceed the number of humans on Earth. Predictions for the number of connected IoT devices in 2020 range from 20 billion to upwards of 50 billion.
Those connected devices are transforming commercial, consumer, and industrial markets. Analysts at Accenture estimate the so-called Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) alone could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
"Arguably the biggest driver of productivity and growth in the next decade, the Industrial Internet of Things will accelerate the reinvention of sectors that account for almost two-thirds of world output."
In its IT Industry Outlook 2018 report, leading IT industry membership association CompTIA cites the IoT as one of 12 “2018 Trends to Watch.” The report also offers a cogent summary of the benefits and challenges the IoT offers to IT managers and their operational processes.
“IoT devices are rapidly making their way into corporate spaces. From gathering new data to automation of infrastructure, companies are finding many benefits from adding connectivity and intelligence to physical infrastructure. Unfortunately, the relatively low cost of IoT devices is not reflected in the cost of system maintenance and optimization. Adding digital capabilities to everyday components drastically increases the scope of IT responsibilities. Additionally, new skills are needed for the different types of data streams being generated and the advanced analysis that companies want to perform. Automation will certainly help ease these burdens, but IoT strategies will still further complicate the already-difficult redefinition of the IT function.”
IoT devices are already performing multiple tasks at business facilities of all sizes and types. Smart video monitors and cameras can be found in conference rooms and public areas. In company kitchens and break rooms, connected microwave ovens and coffee makers respond to user requests wirelessly via smartphone apps.
Unfortunately, many of these devices have little to no security and are difficult or impossible to integrate into incumbent IT management solutions or processes. And users are prone to connect IoT devices to business networks without asking or informing IT management. This means IT can’t manage those devices until they make themselves known, often by causing a support issue or becoming a cybersecurity vulnerability.
Effective ITOM can help make more IoT connection attempts more visible sooner. But every IT team is going to need new or modified operational processes to take full advantage of IoT and IIoT developments without putting their IT estates and businesses at risk.