The New Office and the Internet of Things

By now, we’ve all heard of the Internet of Things right?  According to Gartner, by 2020 the IoT will connect approximately 20-30 billion devices worldwide, and counting.

Sure, a large number of those “things” are personal devices like smart consumer home products, but through production & environmental automation, smart collaboration tools and the prevalence of off-site work, the impact of IoT on our workplaces will be equally as profound.

When it comes to the IoT and business, between the security risks and the massive amount of data it collects, it can feel like the technology creates as many new challenges as it solves. Still, many companies are leveraging IoT for the cost savings alone, especially when it comes to things like physical infrastructure management or building environments. The challenge for IT is that unfortunately, they are usually called in to deal with problems after the fact.  And we aren’t just talking about smart cameras, light fixtures and access cards anymore, IoT across the entire business environment can be the first point of attack hackers go for.

Are we secure?

According to the Harvard Business Review, business leaders reported the following security challenges resulting from IoT applications in the workplace – anything from interactive virtual whiteboards to fleets of smart vehicles and everything in between.

Those stats should give any CIO pause for thought. What we do know is that securing IoT requires an integrated approach:

  • Identifying what is an IoT asset and the risks associated with it
  • Establishing robust access controls such as passwords that are strong enough to resist brute force hacks and always using two-factor authentication
  • Segmentation & fortification of OT (operational technology) networks to isolate what are proving to be the most vulnerable business assets
  • Patch & compliance management requirements and capabilities
  • Ability to monitor, detect, manage and respond to incidents

Additionally, before making any investment in IoT connected devices, IT needs to evaluate device security, and ensure vendors have put every piece of equipment through rigorous security testing – no exceptions.

What to do with all that data?

In addition to security issues, those same business leaders reported that the volume of data from IoT connected devices now leads to new set of analytic issues:

Clearly, what to do with the data pulled from smart devices isn’t always immediately visible. The business value of the generated data needs to be clarified and mapped to goals and corporate strategies. What’s more, data management infrastructure needs to be optimized for capturing real-time and unstructured data, and be scalable as volumes increase.

Now the good news

Finally, we come to the good news!  IoT in the workplace is here to stay and if executed properly, many of the existing IT management & security principles can be applied to this new generation of technology. As it evolves and becomes an accepted piece of the corporate puzzle, businesses will be able to leverage IoT cost benefits and significantly boost productivity and efficiency while having a mechanism for more strategic decision making.

Make no mistake, the Internet of Things is having a huge impact on the way we do business. Get ready.