The Internet of Things (IoT) hype focuses on how Internet-connected cars, homes, offices, appliances and gadgets will transform how we work, play and live. Sensors in water bottles, Internet-enabled tennis rackets and every kind of conceivable wearable will capture the spotlight.

With these new possibilities, the IoT will create IT resource churn as companies struggle to securely connect a deluge of devices, sensors and objects to the corporate network. According to the IDC, there will be more than 212 billion devices connected to the web by 2020, including more than 30 billion connected autonomous things.

It’s important to understand that simply connecting only three to four devices per employee along with standard office equipment, such as printers, copiers, faxes and scanners, will have a profound effect on organizations and the IT people who support them. IT departments will be on the frontlines of the IoT assault, especially when it comes to configuring, managing and updating all the devices that need to communicate and interact.

Since the best defense is a strong offense, IT should embrace the following top five best practices to help best prepare:

1. Blend Traditional Systems and Mobile Management

As more endpoints enter the workplace, there will be increased interdependencies that will create complexities and challenges for IT. Recognize that smartphones and tablets have the same needs as laptops and desktops in terms of passwords, profiles, patches and updates.

When everything is connected to the Internet, the need to stay current with software patches and hardware upgrades will intensify. As a result, we’ll soon see a convergence of mobile device and traditional systems management as companies seek solutions to integrate how to discover, deploy and maintain corporate- and employee-owned smartphones, tablets, cloud clients, laptops and desktops.

2. Turn Data Into Business Knowledge

Companies will need to get more rigorous about collecting high-level usage data on devices. While IT may think they have a fairly accurate picture of their environment, it’s conceivable that hundreds or possibly thousands of new devices could show up on the network seemingly overnight. This is especially true in environments where virtual machines are spun up without IT involvement.

Fine-grained management of all those endpoints typically requires separate, custom tools, which can lead to undue management overhead. That’s why it’s important to understand what level of information is needed most, so it can be aggregated and collapsed into knowledge that fits the specific needs of the business.

3. Unify Systems Management for Heightened Compliance

Companies will need to be much more diligent in paying attention to software licenses in an IoT world as finding you’re out of compliance during a software audit can be extremely costly and time-consuming. To avoid drowning in a sea of IoT data while easing usage and compliance reporting, companies should look for ways to consolidate and centralize systems management reporting.