Getting Ready for the Enterprise of Things: A Practical Primer




**Guest post by Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, LLC**

The Internet of Things will transform our work and our lives. There is no doubt that consumer IoT will have a massive impact. But what’s often overlooked and much less understood is what impact the Enterprise of Things (EoT) will have on organizations of all sizes and virtually all industries. Indeed, although many companies have been dealing with M2M (an early entrant in the EoT ecosystem) and industrialized systems, the implications of what’s about to take place in EoT are critical to the success of businesses in the next decade.

To get ready for EoT, I offer a very brief but practical guide to what it means to businesses and what you need to do to get ready.

1. Companies that don’t employ EoT in their business over the next three to five years will become extinct-competitively. EoT will become as important as past major computing waves, like mobile devices and the Web. Thinking that EoT is only a specialized form of M2M is wrong. And while virtually all companies will be affected, given the nascent nature of this, we don’t really know yet the full scope of EoT. That means flexibility will be key, but architecting for ongoing change will be a must.

2. As in the mobile space which was largely driven by BYOD, so too will enterprises be driven by a wave of EoT devices coming into the organization. This has major implications for security, manageability, cost, connectivity, etc. 

3. The point of deploying tools in a business setting is to provide actionable intelligence to operations and make the business more productive overall. Business analytics, machine learning systems, AI, AR, VR, and other technologies will become compelling ways for companies to improve their user productivity and overall business operations. And while some of these technologies are still in the process of becoming mature, you must begin planning for their use now.

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It’s important to understand that unlike the past where most industrial M2M devices were simple sensor-based data generators, the new age of EoT will usher in fairly complex and often multi-purpose devices. Companies must begin planning for things that not only generate data, but that also have a user interface component. Much as early smartphones (think Blackberry) were primarily simple email devices, the latest generation of smartphones are full blown computing engines with multiple apps and user interactions. So too will there be a transition over the next 3-5 years in the EoT space. And companies will need to address device manageability and user interface/user satisfaction issues through support (think EoT Help Desk) and cloud based services.

5. While the cloud will be critical to all business operations in the future, not all EoT devices will be connected directly to the cloud. The concept of edge computing will be a major component of EoT architectures going forward. Indeed, companies must assess where the “edge” should be to maximize device functionality, and to minimize latency, data transmission that could overwhelm the cloud, and cost. A multi-stage EoT architecture where various levels of edge computing takes place, from intelligent devices, to small servers stationed strategically close to EoT devices, to intermediate computing devices and finally in the cloud, will all be required. Few companies currently understand the complexity associated with EoT and an edge computing variable ecosystem. But they will need to learn and fairly quickly.

6. Regarding overall strategy, many companies think of the ability to deploy low cost sensors and analyze the data as a potential windfall. Yet from talking with many business leaders, only about 10%-15% of currently generated data is analyzed. That’s 85% of potentially valuable data going to waste. I expect the amount of data generated to increase exponentially, perhaps by 50-100% over the next five years. How can you position your company resources to fully utilize that data to make smart business decisions. That will be a true market differentiator for businesses and will require a specific strategy that includes understanding what data needs to be generated and how to get intelligence from it. Right now I’d rate most companies with a failing grade on this.

There are many more challenges going forward for EoT, in strategy, architecture, security (currently almost non-existent), analytics hardware, ROI, and much more. The above six points just scratch the surface. But if you are not planning for a major impact to your operations over the next few years, you will put your company in an untenable position as it tries to remain competitive.  EoT is coming soon and if you don’t form a strategy now, you will be overwhelmed … or overtaken.

Jack Gold has more than 45 years of experience in the computing and electronics industries, 25 year as a tech industry analyst, and is the founder and principal analyst at J.Gold Associates, LLC., a technology analyst firm based in Northborough, MA., covering the many aspects of business and consumer computing and emerging technologies. Follow him on Twitter @jckgld or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jckgld