A Guide to Preparing Your IT Team for Enterprise IoT

By Raffi M. Kassarjian

The Internet of Things offers businesses myriad benefits, but it can also overwhelm your IT team if not managed properly.

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While the term “Internet of Things” was first coined in 1999 and appeared on the Gartner Hype Cycle in 2011, the IoT is now becoming a part of our everyday life at an incredible pace. From Fitbits that monitor heart rates to Internet-connected home thermostats that communicate through homeowners’ cell phones, consumers are drawn to technology that can make almost every aspect of their lives easier. However, it’s not just consumers looking toward the future with the IoT—enterprises are also looking to capture the benefits.

A Gartner report forecasts that the IoT will connect 6.4 billion things this year—in part, due to the expected increase of connected devices in the workplace. In a similar manner to the evolution of the smartphone, businesses both large and small, and in industries ranging from retail to banking and everywhere in between, are adopting IoT-connected devices. Internet-connected electrical appliances, printers and even office lighting systems are already available.

In order to be poised for this influx of technology in the office, IT teams need to properly prepare, by ensuring that they have the right amount of bandwidth, time and resources to keep up with the technology.

Connecting Humans and Machines
Online IT support tools, such as those offered by TeamViewer, have been available for years. These tools allow IT professionals to access corporate networks through their smartphones or laptops. Now, IT professionals will be leaning on these same tools to monitor screen-less devices, such as Linux servers without monitors, around the clock.

As more and more everyday objects become connected to the Internet via IoT sensors and are deployed throughout businesses, IT teams will need to change their routines to handle the maintenance, repair, firmware and software updates of these new devices. Some of these devices may be in remote spots, with no staff close by to attend to them. For instance, what if an Internet-connected vending machine in a remote parking lot needs a software update? IT support to widely distributed but connected devices must be delivered in a way that is manageable by IT teams.

Preparing for the Phenomenon
As more workplace IoT devices proliferate, network resources will be drained. While bandwith certainly is not a major issue for most IoT applications, price may very well be a major obstacle. IoT devices will hinge on 3G and 4G networks. However, these networks were built to support data-consuming applications. In other words, the carriers will need to find ways to generate a return on investment, or else they will be under tremendous pressure to maintain their networks.

As we recently witnessed at the Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, operators are focusing on 5G networks and technology to create greater technical flexibility in connecting IoT devices. The business model they will employ to deliver 5G is still in development. To keep up with the ever-changing demands of the Internet of Things, which may be anything from new application interfaces to a whole new affordable IoT-only network, IT teams will first need to prepare themselves by moving their IT infrastructure into the cloud. This will free up more resources to monitor the devices.

Troubleshooting Technology
One of the biggest fears of IT teams dealing with the IoT revolution is the increased workload it will likely generate. Employees will still need help with their computers, laptops and smartphones, and now IT teams will also need to troubleshoot and update the variety of technology devices that workers are using outside of and around the office. Whether it be the ventilation systems controlling the temperature within an office building, the point-of-sale systems in a retail store or the security camera outside an office building, IT teams need to be ready for any problem.

Choosing an IT service platform that allows for remote access will provide IT support teams with resources to effectively and efficiently correct any issue that may arise. Also, it is important that the platform be compatible with the Android operating system, on which many IoT devices are built. In addition, the increasing use of machine-learning and pattern-detection analytics will allow IT departments to monitor and fix routine issues automatically, without the intervention of IT resources on duty.

Generating Insights on the Impact
Lastly, IT teams need to consider the amount of data they will now be collecting due to the increased use of sensors and wireless devices. When analyzed correctly, this data will generate insights to support more effective business strategies.

The ability to analyze data to deliver competitive value, along with making the necessary changes to their IT departments, will help businesses come to terms with the IoT evolution.

Raffi M. Kassarjian is the executive director and general manager at Monitis, a TeamViewer company, which provides a cloud-based, agentless monitoring solution. Raffi is a seasoned international executive with public company profit and loss (P&L), product management, strategy design and execution experience, with strong expertise in predictive analytics and decision technology for credit underwriting and marketing decisions.