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Build Connected Systems, Not Just Connected Devices

Added to IoTplaybook or last updated on: 06/28/2019

The total IoT marketplace will reach $520 billion in 2021, according to Bain & Company.

Yet despite that rosy growth picture, there’s still plenty of hesitation and trepidation for companies looking to adopt and deploy IoT and industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions. Many executives continue to stand on the sidelines for fear they will venture in the wrong direction or make the wrong decision.

A confusing tangle of platforms and frameworks isn’t helping. Coordinating and integrating IoT solutions is daunting even under the best of conditions, but with uncertainty comes fear and perhaps chaos. Factor in rapidly escalating security and privacy concerns and it isn’t difficult to understand why there’s so much paralysis and inaction.

Rethinking Solutions

How can channel pros, systems integrators, and others assuage the fears of decision makers about heading down the wrong path and winding up with dead-end IoT solutions?

A starting point is to think in holistic terms about the IoT. While it’s wise to introduce and pilot solutions somewhat methodically and build on success, it’s also important to think about a strategic framework from the start. This means moving beyond point solutions and considering how to truly integrate numerous devices, apps, and interfaces.

Integrators can take a cue in that effort from consumer IoT platforms such as Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Amazon Echo. These frameworks deliver a foundation for device integration and system automation aimed at helping homeowners and small businesses string together IoT products and solutions seamlessly. Ultimately, they seek to make it possible to manage everything in one place rather than with dozens of different apps.

In the business arena, this concept is still in the nascent stages. Systems integrators who can weave together IoT systems more effectively, though, position themselves for competitive advantage by being better equipped to move beyond connected devices and tap into the full value of connected systems.

Security and Privacy Are Not Afterthoughts

Embedding security and privacy controls into interconnected systems in a more orchestrated way is also critical. Confronting these issues on an ad hoc or reactive basis adds to client anxiety and real-world risks. A “security first” and “privacy first” approach, on the other hand, dictates the types of devices and software used, network design and topology, governance policies, and how an organization addresses the data lifecycle from the beginning. This, in the end, leads to a more secure IoT framework, and one that alleviates clients’ anxieties.

There are no shortcuts for any of this. At some point, perhaps, there will be the equivalent of an Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, or Google Home for businesses. Perhaps there will also be turnkey security controls for the IoT. But for now, anything a systems integrator can do to simplify, streamline, and secure the IoT is a good thing. Greater certainty and value for clients translates directly into more decisive decision making and increased adoption.


Samuel Greengard is a business and technology writer based in West Linn, Ore. He is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).