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09-September-2014

The Internet of Things

Think on this; the explosion of mobile devices – tablets and smart phones predominantly – is driving one of the most intriguing and rapid developments in business communications and IT management since the dot.com boom. The conversation at present may have been dominated by questions over security, harnessing the power of big data or how to crest the growing wave of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), but truth be told, these questions form part of a larger, more complex web; the management of the “always on society”.

Sure, the always on society represents huge opportunity for individuals and businesses alike, yet, the reality is, this adds a new layer of complexity to the IT function within businesses.

Recent Changes

It is probably worth defining at this stage what we mean by the “Always on Society”. In essence, we are referring to the recent phenomenon whereby nearly everyone has access to interconnected and/or mobile networks. Everything today seemingly connects with other digital devices. From radio and GPS capability, through to self-assembling mesh networks, to cloud based environments which scores of employees’ access, to social media networked cars or location aware devices; everything is connected to each other. Indeed, a recent article in CRN magazine stated that we are heralding in the era of wireless 2.0, an era which will see big data analysis, real time user behaviour metrics, embedded sensors, advances in augmented reality and a proliferation of near field communication.

But it doesn’t stop there: a recent report stated “Australians are online more, they download more, and they are more reliant than ever on mobile services”. In fact, this report further noted that with a population of just under 23 million people, we have in excess of 30 million registered mobile device services, a staggering statistic really. But one which IT departments may shudder at.

with a population of just under 23 million people, we have in excess of 30 million registered mobile device services

Indeed, extrapolating this data out, it would seem that there is a paradox which exists: The more advanced technology gets and the more enabled we become, the more complex the back end management and IT security requirements are.

Impact on Security

Think back to the issue that existed when 3.5″ disks were first introduced. Sure they made it easier to transport information, but similarly, they represented new security concerns – viruses. Fast forward to today, where everything is interconnected and everything represents a potential data and security hole.

everything is interconnected and everything represents a potential data and security hole

Not only does every device which touches the company need to be incorporated to a security management plan, but consideration needs to be given to how each device (particularly mobile devices) interacts with others and how software of firmware updates to one can create zero day flaws in the operating environments of others. Or conversely, how a company can respond to an employee losing their phone which has access to many different sensitive networks.

Whilst IT departments have been considering these elements – albeit in slightly different ways – for decades, today the fact that businesses have moved key elements of their infrastructure to the cloud  means that IT departments need to shift their emphasis from walled perimeter security environments to cloud based, multi-tiered environments capable of adapting and responding instantly.

Management Concerns

Technology does present business with opportunity for improved operations, yet it obviously presents a number of potential drawbacks, especially as IT departments are concerned. However, it is not only the IT gurus who need to plan ahead and consider the ongoing impacts. A business’ commercial divisions – ranging from finance through to marketing – must consider the impact of technology and how to best incorporate changes to their particular frame of reference.

Consideration must be given to decision support, contingency management, asset management, the impacts of more transparency and how access to big data insights can be used to leverage better business results without compromising the integrity of the data or the privacy of individuals within that data.

Above all this however, it is essential that every division within your business consult with and incorporate IT decision makers in planning out your business requirements. Not only can this provide useful insight to a business, but it allows IT departments to either resource up, or allow them to outsource IT support and specialised requirements to third party vendors, more capable of providing robust solutions.

it is essential that every division within your business consult with and incorporate IT decision makers

If you would like further information on how the internet of things is changing business and how you can step up and be prepared, contact us and let us work with you to ensure you cover all your bases.

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