How to ensure IoT success by answering three key questions 

How to ensure IoT success by answering three key questions 

AT&T Europe’s John Vladimir Slamecka argues that IoT doesn’t have to be difficult – in fact it can be conquered relatively easily with support from the top-down.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not new. Companies began using connected devices to track a variety of important ‘things’ more than twenty years ago. What is different now is the pace of innovation. This is opening up new possibilities for a wide range of businesses and industries. In fact, most business leaders know they want to adopt Internet of Things solutions. However, they want to be sure that they are a success.

According to AT&T’s latest Cybersecurity Insights report, 85 percent of global companies are considering an IoT strategy. Over one quarter of these have already piloted or implemented such projects.

The promise of benefits will continue to drive Internet of Things adoption. However, success is not as simple as connecting devices to the Internet. By asking the following three questions, businesses can help ensure results:

How can we transform our business processes with IoT to make sure they deliver value?

Companies used to deploy IoT solutions to improve efficiency or cut costs. With advances in tech, businesses can now look at IoT services as a way to increase customer satisfaction, create new business models and revenue streams.

For example, water is getting scarcer around the world. Access to fresh water will only become more difficult with rapid population growth and more people moving to cities. A variety of companies are working together to develop solutions that use the Internet of Things and acoustic technology to detect water leaks. The aim is to be able to fit these new solutions into existing mains networks.

This will give communities greater visibility into their water supply and in the longer term, will motivate the public to conserve water.

Will our IoT plans generate a real return? 

It can be useful to look at how your industry, customers and business may change in the next five years and then to consider how the IoT can support these changes to deliver a real return. 

Across the world, the transportation and logistics industry needs to change to stay competitive and attract talent. Transport providers are seeking a competitive edge by using connected devices that can track shipments in the air, on land, or at sea. They provide oversight and access to valuable information. In 2014, EyeForTransport Reports and AT&T conducted a global survey of shippers and logistics providers. It found that 80% of companies seeking to expand their existing IoT solutions expected to see ROI within two years. AT&T’s customer, Danish shipping company Maersk Line, is using IoT tech to connect over 270,000 of its containers to track perishable goods.

You understand your industry and your customers but you are not likely to have in-house talent to design, test and build IoT solutions. Since the decisions you make today will affect your business tomorrow, it makes sense to access expert help and use your resources carefully.

What security risks does using IoT bring, and how will we reduce them?

While cyber-security is already of top importance for many companies, IoT can make the risks worse. For a start, the scale of connected devices makes security more complex. The volume of data that businesses need to protect is also growing. This gets harder as businesses use IoT for things like factory operations and supply chains.

The connected car is an example of IoT that many of us will use. Drivers value services that improve their experience. Wireless connectivity is critical to this. An October 2015 global study by Ericsson and AT&T Drive Studio found that nearly 80% of car buyers would put off buying a new car by a year to get connected features. However, the possibility that a hacker could unlock and turn on a car’s ignition, or remotely take over systems such as brakes or steering, is too frightening to ignore.

The answer is to build multiple layers of security controls into IoT devices and their connecting networks. In the connected car, this will mean separating safety systems and engine control units from entertainment and device connections. In all businesses, the entire IoT system will need to be involved from the start. Security has to protect your own devices, data and applications, as well as those of your partners and customers.

Focusing on IoT as a strategic advantage

The challenges of bringing in IoT can be large, but are manageable. For most companies, putting time and effort into reaching the strategic advantages that IoT can bring will deliver great value, even in light of these challenges.

John Vladimir Slamecka, regional president, AT&T Europe, Middle East & Africa

Related: How to get C-level to back your Internet of Things project