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What to expect of Internet of Things in 2014

Colin Neagle | Jan. 3, 2014
Opportunities abound for the enterprise, both inside and out.

Research shows that businesses are adopting IoT products at a faster rate than consumers. One reason is that businesses have much more to gain from an investment in the technology. The ISACA report says 38% of responding consumers in the U.S. cited "time savings" as the biggest benefit of IoT products; other business benefits range from energy efficiency to greater accuracy in the supply chain and increased employee productivity. Major retailers like Wal-Mart and Tesco have tagged products in the supply chain with devices that tracked their location since the early 2000s. In its study, The Economist found that businesses "are slightly further ahead in using the IoT internally rather than externally."

Whether businesses sell IoT products or use them internally, they will undoubtedly face a constant flood of data. Although big data is already on the radar of almost every company, Stroud says enterprises will face another challenge once they've figured out how to harness it.

"I think enterprises will have to really understand not just how much information they're collecting, but where the value is in it," he says. "How do they turn it ... into information they can make decisions on? That's the big opportunity for an enterprise."

As more businesses realize this, more will seek out new hires with skills in the field. The "data scientist" has suddenly become a "hard sought-after role," Stroud says. Both studies cited a need for talent as a result of IoT growth, with The Economist warning of "the potential for IoT talent wars." Stroud agrees, so much so that he says "if I were starting my career again, I'd be going into this space."

"This is where you add real business value," he says. "Where an IT person is not just running machines anymore, but fundamentally taking good information and helping the business make true business decisions so that they can adjust the business in real time based on this information. If used well, you'll be able to spot trends and opportunities far faster than you could in the past."

Privacy will also play a role in the evolution of the Internet of Things market, in which consumers and businesses currently don't see eye to eye. According to the ISACA report, consumers are most concerned about hackers accessing their information, whereas most IT professionals surveyed believe consumers should be concerned about not knowing who can access their information or how it will be used by the companies collecting it. This means businesses selling IoT products will need to calm customers' fears in two ways: assuring them that their products are secure, and establishing trust in how they'll use their data. With the growing attention on the use of customer data, this could be a key issue for the market's future.

"If there truly will be 50 billion Internet of Things devices connected by 2020, organizations have much work to do to increase consumer (and employee) trust in how personal information is used," the ISACA report reads.


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