Much has been made in the past few years about the massive business opportunities that the Internet of Things (IoT) will provide. But capitalizing on this potential is going to be a challenge.
Two recent research reports show that most enterprises are unprepared for the IoT.
Research from Infoblox showed the infrastructure to support the IoT is too weak. And research from Spiceworks found the IoT will put already overburdened networks under unbearable pressure. Combined, the studies suggest that far from being the financial cornucopia it could be, the IoT may in fact buckle enterprise infrastructure.
Laying the Foundation
One of the really interesting things about the Infoblox research — How the Internet of Things Impacts Enterprise Networks — is that 57 percent of the 400 enterprises surveyed in the US and the UK report they embrace the IoT, but lack the infrastructure and networks to support it.
This corresponds with Spicework’s research, a survey of 440 IT pros in North America and the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). It showed IT departments believe the IoT will result in major infrastructure issues — and that more than half of the respondents are doing absolutely nothing about it.
There is a positive here, though. In the information management space, the historical trend has been for technology to outpace business readiness for the implementation or use of a given technology. Usually, it has been the business side of the house that has been forced to play catch-up.
Think, for example, of all the times we have pointed to major holes in the planning of data management or information governance as a general trend in enterprises. Even business planning around SharePoint has been lax in many cases.
The result has been the underutilization of business technologies and the failure to use technologies for best business advantage. Lack of planning and governance has also, of course, created major security concerns.
This case, though, the opposite appears to be true. The business side of the enterprise appears ready, while the IT, including networks and infrastructure are trailing business needs or expectations.
Better Hurry Up
It’s not clear why IT is dragging its heels on this. However, both reports highlight security issues. Spiceworks found that 86 percent of IT pros believe the IoT will force them to support more Internet-connected devices that will generate more data, take more bandwidth, hold more IP addresses hostage and place more enterprise data in the cross-hairs of system hackers.
The Infoblox research indicates that one of the core issues here is that line-of-business workers are not communicating to IT about the use, type and possible applications of the IoT devices they expect to purchase.
Both explanations should send shivers up the spine of any right-thinking C-Suite executive, who must be able to see in this evidence that their IoT plans and aspirations are hurtling out of control.
The problem, as Infoblox sees it, is that many enterprises will not have enough network capacity to handle the demands put on them by the IoT and the millions of devices that will connect with each other.
It is still not certain how many devices this means. Gartner, for example, predicts that by 2020 IoT will grow to more than 26 billion devices. IDC puts the number closer to 30 billion, with an industry value of around $8.9 trillion, while Cisco estimates 50 billion “things” by 2050, with a value of $14.4 trillion by 2022.