Harnessing the Internet of Things


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Everyone has heard about the Internet of Things (IoT). But what is it, exactly? One useful definition puts it this way: “It’s not so much about the emergence of new technology, it’s the convergence—the ability to use sensors for everything in the world to basically be a computer, whether it’s your contact lens, your hospital bed, or a railway track.”

The math is mind-numbing: Depending on whom you believe, the number of connected devices in 2020 will be either 50 billion (Cisco’s prediction) or 200 billion (Intel’s). Sensors in just about everything, from refrigerators and thermostats to automobiles and roadways, will merrily churn out petabytes of data every second—data that somebody, somewhere, somehow, must manage and—ideally—interpret and use.

Seen from that perspective, CIOs and chief data officers (CDOs) can expect their enterprises soon to be swimming in a sea of data of almost unimaginable proportions. Companies that extract value from their data will have a substantial competitive edge over those who don’t. But how can they accomplish this task?

For starters, CIOs must reinvent their data-processing infrastructure. Simply adding more computing power to existing computational paradigms won’t do the trick. Entirely new technologies such as cognitive computing and even quantum computing will be required. CDOs will turn to the emerging field of IoT analytics to catalog, manage, secure, and interpret information. Technologies such as blockchain and adaptive security will find their places in an IoT world.

To be successful in this rapidly evolving IoT space, CIOs and CDOs must adopt a strategic approach. A good strategy is to use sensors and intelligent things to streamline existing workflows and processes. A great strategy is to develop innovative ways to leverage IoT to enter nontraditional markets and even create new ones. It’s no longer enough to think outside the box. Now you need to make your own box.


Photo credit: iStock.com/narvikk


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