How the IoT Will Impact Corporate IT Organizations

Internet of Things technology has implications across IT organizations, from day-to-day tasks to more fundamental shifts.
By Sarah Lahav
Aug 04, 2015

Many of us are probably already bored to death of hearing about how the Internet of Things will dramatically change corporate IT and corporate IT organizations. We've heard this prophecy for such a long time. However, in 2015, it finally feels as though we are about to hit the point of no return, at which all, and not just some, corporate IT organizations need to finally prepare themselves for both the management and security implications of the IoT.

From a purely IT management perspective, IT operations teams will need to tackle issues ranging from IP address management (and the demand for more IP addresses) to service and fault management, to data analytics that the wealth of new networked devices demand. Consequently, we'll see corporate IT organizations looking beyond traditional IT capabilities, working closer with colleagues on how these now-connected devices do, can and will tie in to business operations and business models. This will most likely require IT professionals to develop new skills, and will also grow demand for automation in IT management—which is why I believe the IT workforce will not necessarily grow.

Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, as evidenced in innovations such as self-driving cars, facial recognition software and programs that predict our buying patterns—not to mention autonomous machine-to-machine (M2M) data transfer. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Business' Initiative on the Digital Economy has been analyzing the trends and impacts of technology, especially the growth of automation, in the digital economy—much of which is documented in a book titled "The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies," by Erik Brynjolfsson.

We've already seen the growth of automation in corporate IT, specifically the push for more automation to be embedded in app development approaches such as continuous integration, a practice that requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository several times a day. This, consequently, reduces the need for manual processes and thus the need for people to perform them.

The security of a whole new breed of network-connected end points is vital, not only in terms of data but also from a brand-management perspective. That is especially true given the media's increasing interest in security breaches and the adverse impact (brand and financial) on the high-profile companies that are the focus of these stories.

When embedding data security within an IoT device is insufficient, for various reasons, it may be better for developers to place those tools within the Web service outside of the device. In terms of message integrity and secure communication, we need to consider the security of the route that the data follows from the IoT device.

Then, of course, there are risks associated with the use of third-party cloud-service providers. IT pros responsible for managing the third-party cloud services will need to monitor not only service levels and costs, but also the adherence to security-based contractual terms.

Finally, as with anything related to data these days, IoT-related privacy risks will also need to be addressed as IoT devices collect and aggregate data related to their operation and business purpose. The constant collection and collation of differing data sets will, no doubt, lead to concerns regarding data privacy, as well it should. Again, this is nothing new for corporate IT organizations—it's just another facet of the big data challenge.

All in all, the Internet of Things will dramatically change the role of the average corporate IT organization and its work force. As shown above, it is likely to force changes in IT operations and security, as well as in people's mindsets. We must appreciate the fact that IT is now so much more than traditional "information technology." IT organizations need to ensure that everything connected to the corporate network is monitored and managed from a security perspective, from purchase through to retirement.

Sarah Lahav is the chief operating officer at SysAid Technologies, which develops and provides IT service management software. She formerly served as SysAid's VP of customer relations, and was also the firm's first employee.
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