By Parag Arora – Area Vice President & Country Head, India Sub -Continent at Citrix Systems
Imagine this – your alarm rings waking you up, sends a message to the geyser to warm up water for your shower, and then sends a message to your coffee machine asking it to brew your coffee and the toaster for a toast, and by the time you are ready for office, so is your breakfast. All of this, without you manually going and operating any of those above mentioned devices. Sounds too futuristic? Well, behold; Internet of Things (IoT) is doing exactly that. It is creating an ecosystem built on a network of data gathering sensors and cloud computing, of “connected things” that with their intuitive technology can predict or follow routine behavior and repeat it without human intervention.
According to Gartner, there will be 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020. Given the momentum and acceptance, the trend will drastically change the way we do everyday tasks. The challenge lies in assimilating the change in technology’s treatment. Where at a point of time, technology implied people – device engagement, it now includes device – device communication. The shift to ‘Integration of Everything’ is what best explains IoT’s delivery. Additionally, it refers to the creation of a platform that conveniently enables the convergence of legacy and new technology applications like sensors, gadgets, people, places, and businesses resulting in easy and efficient exchange of information. IoT essentially warrants automation of processes to such a degree that it will manifest itself as a true example of how technology can transform our work and life.
Technology at its core is meant to make life easier. Application of Internet of Things implies a scenario wherein your car has your day’s schedule and takes a route that is least likely to be met with traffic. In case, there is an appointment for which you are going to be late, your car’s communication device will inform the concerned person about the delay. All this because connected devices controlled by the internet have learned a certain behavior that is conducive to your productivity.
Another situation worthy of consideration is the smart grids’ sensors checking for the stationary availability and directly placing an order online for the deficit. This not only eliminates the need of physically keeping a tab of the stock but also helps getting secondary processes completed faster. Thus, leaving the employees with more time to concentrate on constructive work. The potential of time efficiency and flexibility and the resultant increase in productivity that this technology has is tremendous. Additionally, application of sensors and IoT mechanisms will help in systematic energy conservation, better mobility solutions, and smarter infrastructure.
IoT as a technology works to service both the employees and employers. It lays the foundation for a connected network that is enveloping of current technology trends like Big Data and BYOD such that the employees no longer have to go look for a document in case of a query. IoT enabled devices procure the required data faster, with minimum to zero error, thus making retrieval of data faster and life at work many times convenient. Therefore, on one hand where it is effectively helping reduce employees’ mundane task list, on the other hand it is also helping employers streamline their processes such that more is done in less time.
Introduction of IoT however, entails restructuring of the entire IT infrastructure that forms the backbone of an organization’s operations. The organization needs to know whether their business model is suitable for its adoption and if they have the required monetary capabilities. Also, it being a relatively new technology, equipping employees will be a time consuming effort. However, with the benefits it provides, the onus of dealing with transitional changes and making the process easier for the employees lies on the management. Integration of IoT however, requires certain considerations on the businesses’ part.
The Internet of Things will be a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications and devices that need to be able to communicate across the organization (or extended ecosystem depending on the requirement) irrespective of the geographical location. Especially for supply chains this requires shared standards to exchange data across different organizations. The success of the Internet of Things will be determined by the existence of such, global, standards and needless to say, the government will play a critical role in this.
Communication in the IoT usually takes place over a combination of private and public networks, so securing the network protocols will be the primary objective. With the BYOD culture gaining momentum and acceptance both from the employer and employee end, an efficient and open environment with benefits ranging from cost efficiency, increased productivity and overall technology advancement has been on the emergence. However, with information available at the employees’ fingertips, chances of their devices getting stolen or malfunctioning of the firewall or anti-virus software may spell doom for the organization as their sensitive data will be left exposed to threats. Hence, having a solid security system in place that is equipped to deal with encountered and anticipated threats is an inevitable need
Talk to your CIO:
When upscaling your organization’s IT infrastructure to accommodate IoT capabilities, the responsibility of handling the present IT strengths, deploying solutions and equipping the teams with the advanced intelligent systems lies with the CIO. Hence, it is paramount that you consult and consensually decide if the company needs this technological transformation.
All said and done, IoT is a game changer whose impact is multifarious. It will help accelerate the speed of processes, provide flexibility and accessibility to everyone and as a by-product enhance the quality of life as well as overall performance of the organization. In the Indian context, what needs to be seen is how seamlessly we can integrate and utilize it to realize its true potential.