Internet of Things

7 Novice Mistakes to Avoid When Adopting Smart Devices for Your Company

Many companies launch Internet of Things initiatives but few are successfully implemented.
7 Novice Mistakes to Avoid When Adopting Smart Devices for Your Company
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Guest Writer
Startup mentor, CEO and tech blogger
7 min read
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It typically takes careful planning and execution to be successful when adopting any new technology. Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices are no different. The problem is that some of us typically get too enamored with the technology. We often fail to take into account the realities that our respective companies face.

Hopping on to the IoT bandwagon without planning is a recipe for disaster. A study by Cisco revealed that only 26 percent of surveyed companies were successful with their IoT initiatives. Whether it is updating firmware, security vulnerabilities or simply not taking user experience into account, it is critical for companies to avoid common stupid mistakes when adopting IoT.

Here are seven common pitfalls you should avoid now that IoT devices have infiltrated your office.

1. Don't be cheap.

The market is now flooded with cheap IoT devices. On the upside, these low-cost devices lower the barriers to adoption. On the downside, they can also be security risks. These devices typically have few security features and minimal active support. These leave them vulnerable to malware and expose infrastructures to cyberattacks in case potential exploits are found in their software, which means that companies need to implement additional solutions in order to maintain control.

“In IoT initiatives, organizations often don't have control over the source and nature of the software and hardware being utilized by smart connected devices,” notes Ruggero Contu, a research director at Gartner. “We expect to see demand for tools and services aimed at improving discovery and asset management, software and hardware security assessment, and penetration testing.”

These solutions can be costly, mind you, which is why Gartner predicts spending on IoT security to reach $3.1 billion in the next three years. Make sure you invest in devices that have essential security features such as user authentication, data protection, and upgradable firmware. Get devices from companies that have active support and development for their products. Take time to identify vendors that could provide you with longer-term support that cover the lifespan of the devices.

Related: 25 Innovative IoT Companies and Products You Need to Know

2. Overlooking alignment with business goals.

You have to know why you’re starting an IoT project. What business goals do you intend to meet? Do you intend to reduce costs, gather more data, or automate processes? Knowing this would make it easier for you to match appropriate IoT solutions for what you seek to improve.

Having a goal in mind also lets you avoid the trap of novelty. Are you installing Nest thermostats because it’s the cool thing to do or are you really keen on reducing energy costs? Just because everyone else is installing these devices doesn’t mean that you should also rush to do the same.

Try to determine how these devices enhance your ability to deliver value to your internal and external customers. Your strategy should also consider extracting as much value from the effort. For example, the data from IoT devices should fuel business intelligence efforts.

3. Overlooking the ongoing need for maintenance.

Each device you integrate with your network is an additional endpoint that needs to be managed and secured. By adopting IoT at your company, you’re likely to see a spike in the number of devices connected to your network.

“As our ownership of smart technology expands, there will become a moment in time when you will no longer have the instant knowledge of the devices in your home or office which could be used to expose critical vulnerabilities, breach your network or steal your identity,” notes Robert Brown, Cloud Management Suite’s director of services.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are now the standard for many organizations. These typically increase staff productivity by ensuring that they are connected and productive wherever they are. However, you must anticipate the addition of these devices to your infrastructure and consider them in your strategy.

Evaluate how well-equipped your IT team is to manage additional devices. Invest in the proper tools and technologies that would help them be more efficient in maintaining your infrastructure.

Related: 3 Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Facing Small Businesses Right Now

4. Ignoring security warnings.

Many IoT devices claim to be user-friendly but sometimes this simplicity contributes to vulnerabilities. Many devices are left exposed to attacks just because users haven’t bothered properly configuring them.

Check if you’ve done basic security checks like changing the default access to administration panels of devices. Most malware bots target devices that are left using default usernames and passwords. Are your devices running on the most up-to-date firmware and software? Patches must also be regularly deployed to ensure that recently-addressed vulnerabilities and bugs are fixed.

Staff members’ own devices are also potential security weak points. Make sure you have measures and protocols that ensure that your data and network are secure especially when accessed through these devices.

5. No contingencies.

IoT devices rely on connectivity to function. But what happens when the Wi-Fi or the internet goes out? If you rely on being online all the time, then you’re inviting trouble. Check if your devices have the options to function offline and temporarily store data locally before resyncing to the cloud at a later time. This way, you will still be able to function without any loss of productivity and data even if you lose internet.

“Despite all the advancements in technology, database, hardware, and software downtime are an expected aspect of doing business,” notes Matt Woodward, who serves as VP Digital Transformation at Rand Group. “The only way to mitigate the risk is to prepare and have the right technology in place to monitor, restore and restart.”

In addition, you may also want to implement redundancies, backups and failover measures. Cloud backup solutions help not only to prevent data loss but for businesses to recover and become operational quickly in the event of downtime. Downtime is costly to any enterprise. If you’re not prepared to invest in these measures at the moment, then reconsider embarking on IoT altogether.

Related: This Cloud-Based Data Service Makes the IoT Less WTF

6. Forcing technology on people.

Success of IoT projects also relies on how well staff can use the technology to achieve results. However, new technologies sometimes get forced on them. It’s important to have people of all levels buy into the effort.

Educate your staff about how these new devices and measures will make them more productive. They must also be involved, or at least consulted, so that you’d be able to create an engaging working environment that truly delivers value for everyone.

Users must also be educated on how to use the technology. Among the key reasons why technology adoption efforts fail is when users don’t know how to fully maximize these technologies. If your company has a permissive BYOD policy, staff members should be oriented in best practices for keeping their own devices secure.

7. Failing to establish metrics.

Performance of any project must be tracked for results. Many tend to complicate matters by considering too many factors when measuring how well their projects fare. Usually it is enough to use simple metrics that focus on the business goals you are aiming for.

Metrics could focus on uptime (devices deployed vs. devices operational), deployment speed (how quickly were you able to deploy), cost vs. savings (in the case of energy management), productivity (faster movement of products from warehouse to shipping), and revenue (additional sales).

It's best to focus on small wins. Being too ambitious with your IoT projects could ultimately affect your effort’s chances of delivering value to your company. IoT initiatives often call for significant investments, so it is unwise to burn through your budget keeping your employees tied up just to include IoT devices and initiatives across business processes.

Keep in mind that you will be spending resources on something that is as rapidly changing as technology. Being conservative while you test the waters can be a good thing. Consider delivering small wins first before going all-in with the technology. You can always build up on initial successes and integrate more of IoT into your organization.

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