Making the Most of IoT
Rajesh Shetty, Director, Enterprise Networking Sales, Cisco India & SAARC
The article was published in the Economic Times
Small and medium-sized businesses in India today have unprecedented access to new technologies, new markets, suppliers, and customers and are constantly looking at shaping industry conditions. Increased competition and expansion have driven them to reach out for IT and the Internet as a basic infrastructural requirement for optimizing efficient operations and businesses. In this context, SMBs are looking at The Internet of Things (IoT) to enable new business models which will help them improve business efficiencies and increase profit margins.
In fact, according to a Gartner report, innovative start-ups and small enterprises are said to drive growth in the Internet of Things through the creation of niche applications. The report also predicts that by 2017, 50 percent of IoT solutions will originate from start-ups that are less than three years old.
While IoT presents significant opportunities for SMBs, it requires them to have a deep understanding of the technologies which are involved. In order for SMBs to leverage the complete potential that IoT mandates, they require a robust network infrastructure which is flexible, scalable and can be easily deployed across applications.
- Managing the network - When networks grow in complexity, SMBs need to focus on comprehensive network solutions. SMB business leaders usually don't have the time to learn about the inner workings of networked systems.
- Having a dedicated IT staff - While adopting IoT solutions it is critical to have a dedicated IT staff that is up to date with the complex nuances of IoT ecosystem and can help manage the network. However, most organizations do not have the resources to have a dedicated IT team.
- Security - Security is a key concern in the IoT ecosystem as large number of devices gets connected to the network. Irrespective of size, organizations face a need to protect their businesses against business interruption that takes place through theft of information, virus outbreak prevention, and application abuse with limited additional cost and manageability issues.
- Cost restrictions - Most of the SMBs have cost restrictions.
For SMBs to manage their network efficiently, it is essential that they have-
- A Simplified Infrastructure: Most SMBs’ existing internet infrastructure was originally designed only to connect to critical computer hardware components such as printers, scanners, etc. However, today, due to the tremendous growth in the number of devices, the infrastructure requirement has evolved drastically and these new devices require low bandwidth which mainly runs without direct human intervention. A simplified infrastructure needs to be redesigned to reduce cost and complexity. This level of flexibility is required for organizations to implement IoT solutions. Organizations need to quickly scale to meet the expansive networking needs of IoT without sacrificing the availability of their existing infrastructure.
- A Secure Network: With the growth of IoT, the need for a new security model becomes even more critical. It requires innovative security solutions to make sure that the IoT securely fulfils its potential and preserves the convenience that it represents. Therefore, it is essential that the organizations network automatically detects any threats that may arise in the network and immediately resolve these threats.
- Convergence: Enterprises need their IT and OT networks to converge and provide seamless connectivity so that they can support existing and new business applications that IoT presents.
- Building the Right Partner Ecosystem: The complexity of IoT solutions necessitates that organizations seek outside assistance from not just one but a range of vendors. Orchestration of this network of relationships across the adoption lifecycle will be paramount to success in the SMBs IoT journey.