Internet of Things

What 'They' Are Not Telling You: The Downsides of the 'Internet of Things'

What 'They' Are Not Telling You: The Downsides of the 'Internet of Things'

A visitor walks past an illuminated advertising panel at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26, 2014.

Image credit: REUTERS | Albert Gea
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The Internet of Things (IoT) is guaranteed to have an enormous impact on business that will bring productivity and competitiveness to levels never previously seen. What is not commonly discussed, however, are plans for how to get there and the consequences that will meet us upon the IoT's arrival.

Related: 3 Industries Entrepreneurs Can Disrupt With the 'Internet of Things'

First, some background: IoT is the anticipated network of physical objects embedded with anything from electronics and software to sensors and connectivity, enabling those objects, without human interaction, to exchange data with their manufacturers and other connected devices.

This advance is expected to produce efficiencies and services that go far beyond traditional machine-to-machine communications; and if you’re in the market for the net benefits this new phase has to offer, you'll recognize the advantages right away.

But you should be aware of the downsides as well. Here are three things technology and knowledge professionals should focus on:

1. It’s difficult knowing where to start.

The truth is that there is currently no standardized set of protocols or blueprints for implementing IoT. At its core, an IoT project is an innovation and business-process transformation project. It’s not the sort of task a group of technical professionals meets in a room with a whiteboard to hash out.

Instead, it requires a cross-functional team with representation from the line-of-business, marketing, sales, operations and technology -- basically the entire front and back of the house. This is why a true IoT starting point is often difficult to pin down. Beyond the basics, there remains a multitude of lingering questions around scaling, security, identity management, access control, big data, business intelligence and more. Simply stated, there is much to consider before getting started.  

2. It will be a struggle to meet demand.

IoT will place an enormous demand on both businesses and the technology function. To address this demand, decisions will need to consider both an application-focused and network infrastructure point of view. An increase in connectivity will deliver opportunity to integrate emerging applications further within the enterprise.

This will, in turn, increase network demands. Transparency between vendors and technology partners will be a necessity when it comes to discussions on cost, staffing and planned network impact and optimization.

Related: Out of the Loop on the Internet of Things? Here's a Brief Guide.

On the plus side of things, this process will open up a need for a new breed of technology-implementation professionals capable of acting as a liaison between both IT and the c-suite, providing an education on options and making sure business goals and initiatives are outlined with a full explanation of how they will be met.

3. Roles in the c-suite will be turned upside down.

IoT will drive disruptive competitiveness. Smart and fast enterprises will leverage IoT to disrupt markets, and those businesses unable to react and or anticipate will face harsh consequences. I can hear the heartbeats in every corner office across the world starting to race!

The truth is, IoT will affect almost everyone with “officer” affixed to the end of his or her title. The near future will see chief operations officers (COO) and chief innovation officers (CIO) monitoring trends captured by IoT in an effort to 1) assess those trends' impact on specific lines of business; and 2) understand what changes are necessary from an operational standpoint in order to address those shifts.

We will also see changes to the chief revenue officer (CRO) and chief marketing officer (CMO) job descriptions, as their metrics for success are tied to understanding customer preferences, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Finally, chief financial officers (CFO) will also be greatly impacted, for IoT will represent a constant effort to maximize ROI.

CFOs will be required to determine how IoT will change organizational revenue models, whether or not funding streams need to be altered and to what extent board members must have buy-in.

In sum, IoT is no doubt shifting the modern business landscape for the better. However, careful technical and strategic planning will be necessary to both facilitate its onset and mitigate its most negative characteristics. 

Related: Why the Investment Potential of the 'Internet of Things' May Be Overblown