IoT technology is an emerging market, and organizations are still testing the waters whether it can satisfy the intensive B2B environment. Connectivity and need for automation have pushed the growth envelope of IoT adoption with countless innovations offering software and hardware for everything, ranging from intelligent homes and cars to medical devices. According to the latest forecasts from GSMA Intelligence, the IoT market is set to be worth $ 1.1 trillion in revenue by 2025, as the market value shifts from connectivity to applications, platforms, and services.
IoT vendors are encouraging many businesses to adopt the benefits from each of the IoT applications. The IoT vendors are utilizing data and controlled automation along with complete connectivity, which acts as a selling point, but how much of it is relevant to the current businesses is yet to be seen.

Recently, Rob Mesirow, Principal Partner at PwC’s Connected Solutions, stated that the current consumer adoption trends may not give a complete picture of the enterprise opportunities. If health trackers and smart thermostats are taken away from the equation, very few IoT connected devices will be left in the market. According to Mesirow, when people talk about IoT, they usually focus on consumer devices rather than business devices. According to figures provided by Statista, IoT devices are expected to jump from about 5 billion in 2015 to nearly 31 billion by 2020, with the consumer sector majorly accounting for these devices.

Rob Mesirow also wrote a blog on ‘Five unexpected ways to use the Internet of Things.’ IoT introduces endless possibilities for businesses. However, if the businesses can piece together the IoT puzzle, it can significantly improve their efficiency, lower costs, increase customer satisfaction, and induce growth through data.
What businesses fail to understand is that the IoT applications can be defined as per the operations of the business. The more they look at massive IoT ecosystems, the more convoluted it becomes.
Here are 5 uses that can lay the foundation for a larger IoT ecosystem in future:

1.Improve energy usage and support sustainability

IoT is currently being used to manage buildings and spaces, which wasn’t even dreamt of by businesses a decade ago. Smart buildings use occupancy sensors to determine when  people are physically present in a room. By using IoT devices and sensors, businesses can adjust lighting and temperature to an optimal level after checking the occupancy of the room. Thereby saving money and assisting remote climate monitoring.

Lighting control also assists in managing offices while the employees are out or on vacation. Smart buildings can determine when the meeting spaces are available, which can improve their occupancy by large businesses and universities by 40% or more, by reducing infrastructural and maintenance costs. An enterprise, on an average, spends $ 7,200 on electricity bills, and many of it could be incurred from the non-occupied rooms.

2. Tracking assets and inventory

Connected solutions can provide improved insights about assets. Tracking can vitally improve the service in the manufacturing sector, where industries deal with a load of both raw and finished materials.

Organizations usually have a range of IT equipment, and knowing where a piece of equipment is actually currently situated saves the resource’s time. Asset tracking also assists in reducing theft and increasing staff productivity. With dashboards, connected sensors, and notifications in place, it’s possible to have a complete visibility into the location of your assets. Asset location tracking provides results, wherein it provides improved asset optimization, reduces inventory needs, and improved customer experience.

3. Customer experience

Sensors, facial recognition, analytics, notifications, and dashboards could elevate and transform the customer experience, according to PwC. Using connected solutions can assist businesses in identifying and rewarding the best customers by giving them perks such as reduced wait times, and/or shorter lines. IoT can assist in providing enact customer experience that can boost customer loyalty and increase revenue.

Customer experience can become a two-way street for a business. One of the prime examples that we are seeing is facial recognition as it can be used to provide customer experience and security, apart from acting as a surveillance technology.

4. Security and compliance

Security and compliance are major issues when businesses don’t usually have monitoring solutions across all locations. Remote work environment demands security infrastructure that is prompt and user-friendly. Several IoT features with localized monitoring and compliance are helping businesses in maintaining a secure work environment.

5. Behavior analytics and opportunities

Big data and analytics are used to identify customer behavior and deliver more focused, targeted notifications and promotions by marketers. Connected solutions can identify opportunities for up-selling, upgrading, cross-selling, and more. For example, a logic-based system can identify a customer’s exact whereabouts and his upcoming plans of actually visiting a particular spot, using which a marketer can provide relevant promotions and offers to the user.

The above foundational elements in IoT applications do look more relevant in business use cases, but with a pinch of some major challenges faced by the businesses today. Immature IoT standards, communication infrastructure, high investment cost, and security are a few major roadblocks affecting the IoT adoption on the business side. However, a secure IoT environment is still an extensive  challenge because of sensitive data access and privacy concerns with each sensor.

Security & Solution

IoT security risks include a number of threats involving connected devices, which might include a software that supports IoT and networks that make all connections possible. There has been an increased number of IoT related data breaches since 2017, according to a report from the research firm, Ponemon Institute, and the risk management services firm, the Santa Fe Group.

Most organizations are unaware of the unsecured IoT devices or applications in their environment or from third-party vendors in their infrastructure. A research shows that many organizations have no centralized accountability to address or manage IoT risks, and majority think their data will be breached over the next 24 months. Security risks are particularly higher for industries such as healthcare because of the high volume of information gathered and shared by devices over networks. Among the 232 healthcare organizations surveyed by the research firm Vanson Bourne, 82% experienced an IoT-focused cyber-attack over the last year.  

So how should businesses deal with security risks of IoT?

Microsegmentation is designed to make the network security more granular. It assists the businesses in applying policies even to individual workloads in order to provide better protection against attacks. Microsegmentation does provide more fine-grained segmentation of traffic than VLANs.  

Microsegmentation is propelled by the emergence of Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and network virtualization. Using software decoupled from the network hardware, segmentation provides easier implementation compared to using the non-decoupling process. It offers better control over traffic in data centers than perimeter-focused products such as firewalls. It can stop attackers from entering networks to wreak damage.

Businesses have been breaking networks into segments; it helps in isolating some of the critical resources for some time. For example, many retail merchants these days are isolating their payment environment from other network traffic to reduce the scope of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), a security standard designed to ensure that retail companies maintain a secured environment around payment information. 

Concluding thought

IoT applications are bound to reach all enterprises, yet its challenges will remain prominent. A clear-cut definition of the current risk level and after adoption risk level will assist IT and leaders to define the adoption of IoT, but up to what level. To know more about IoT solutions, you can download whitepapers provided by our clients.   

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