2018 planning (4 of 9): Explore the Internet of Things

This is the next in our series of posts spotlighting Gartner’s planning guides for 2018. The topic for this week is the Internet of Things.

This is a meaty topic, as we’re still in the early days of this trend. There’s a lot of hype, a lot of opportunity, and a lot of issues to work through. We’re all still at the “should we?” stage, and concerns around privacy and safety abound. Sound familiar? It feels like the cloud all over again.

And just like the cloud was several years ago, the IoT is primed to take off in a big way. An IDC report from June 2017 says that spending on IoT will be at $800 billion for 2017 and has grown an incredible 17% year over year. By 2021, they predict that spending on IoT will be nearly $1.4 trillion. Some of the biggest use cases include:

  • Manufacturing
  • Freight monitoring
  • Production asset management
  • Smart grids for electricity, gas, and water
  • Smart building technologies
  • Smart home technologies
  • Facilities automation
  • Electric vehicle charging
  • In-store contextual marketing 

In short, there are countless ways to put sensors on everyday things and start collecting data. But there are also a lot of things you’ll need to think through before this technology will be viable for your organization.

So one of your goals for 2018 should be to continue developing your company’s IoT strategy. What are creative ways in which IoT devices might be useful in your organization? How will you get ready to make use of them? How will you address stakeholder and customer concerns about safety and privacy? Here are some key things to be thinking about for the coming year, which I’ve summarized from Gartner:

Be a thought leader

If your IT team is slow to adopt this trend, many groups in your organization might forge ahead with their own solutions and create organic IoT that’s harder to govern and maintain. So stay ahead of the curve by doing your research. Gartner predicts that IoT designs and patterns will start to crystallize in 2018. Stay in the know on these and see if they might be applicable to your organization and the problems you’re trying to solve. Know what’s out there. Know what third parties are doing. Explore what groups in your own organization might already be doing in this area. And here’s an interesting one: Hold workshops to share back what you’re finding with the rest of the org. I particularly liked this quote from Gartner: “Workshop leaders identify themselves as de facto thought leaders.”

Hire an IoT architect

If you don’t already have someone like this on staff, now is the time to start hiring. Empower this person to lead many of the activities on this list. They can help your organization stay ahead of the curve, put together initial designs, and explore third party options. They can also liaise with groups across the organization, to better understand needs and figure out interim solutions.

Start small

If you’re not ready to dive all-in on this technology, don’t. Test the waters with lightweight activities. It can be as simple as starting to document ways that you might benefit from IoT devices. Or maybe you do some small proof of concepts.

Design a straw man

Design your IoT architecture now. Even a rough straw man design can be a great tool to start passing around internally and with your stakeholders. It might not be perfect, but as they say, don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.

Think third party

Figure out how you can use IoT devices from third parties. These can be a great resource, rather than having to design your own solutions in-house. If your organization has a need, you need to be ready to meet it.

Stay on top of security

Security and safety is a top priority when it comes to IoT and continues to be one of the major obstacles to adoption. Which means you need to be thinking through your security and testing plan for IoT devices. These can be a bit more complicated than software testing, because it’s harder to test in a real-world environment. For example, if you’re working with city traffic cameras, there’s no “sandbox city” where you can test them out and make sure that your solution won’t cause any traffic accidents when it goes live. Gartner recommends several things here, including extensive unit testing, instrumenting environments to detect failures immediately, and enabling network capture and simulations.

Get to the cloud

The cloud is a great way to power your IoT solutions. It gives you a head start on the infrastructure and analytics you’ll need to deploy and keep tabs on your IoT devices. Plus, cloud providers like Microsoft even offer services that make it easier to launch IoT solutions, such as Azure IoT suite. If you haven’t already made the leap to the cloud, this is an area where Binary Tree can help. See more about how we can help you transform to Office 365.


The 2018 Planning Series