Are businesses in the Middle East ready for the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) will transform your business.
The explosion of connected devices and the increasing number of businesses embracing them for mainstream operations, has meant that analysts are now estimating that more than 20 billion “things” could be connected to the Internet by 2020. But how will this transform business as we know it?
We have all seen the seismic shift in how mobile tech has impacted the workplace over the past few years. From fixed wired desktops to flexible, collaborative digital environments, all industries have felt the impact of mobile technology – be it in terms of offices, on the manufacturing floor or in industrial settings.
But now things are moving to the next level; businesses are starting to see and feel the benefits IoT can bring, including cost savings, efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences.
Transform the workplace through technology
So, why is this shift significant? Take the smart conference room management app, ‘Robin’, streamlining admin processes by booking your meeting room, complete with necessary amenities, in a few smartphone swipes. Employees can find, book and locate a free meeting room and, when they arrive for their meeting, automatically initiate a Microsoft ‘Skype for Business’ session, saving significant time.
It is these small efficiencies that can collectively help with the overall productivity and satisfaction within the working environment.
Similar technologies are enabling employers such as Swiss bank UBS to abandon rigid cubicle farms in favor of hot-desking, where workers have no fixed work area, workstation or phone. This maximises their facilities while simultaneously providing the types of collaborative environments that ultimately result in the innovations necessary for competitive success.
The industrial and manufacturing industries are also embracing IoT opportunities. Operational technology is working together with information technology to drive more efficient, effective processes, reduce costs and improve profitability.
Have the edge, be intelligent
Big data is not a new concept, but the amount of data is growing exponentially as a result of the sheer number of people, places and things that now inhabit the digital workplace. As a result, it makes sense to move some of the computing power required to process this serious amount of data to a network location or Intelligent Edge.
Here, technologies connect and automate anything from IoT-enabled lighting to heating, from manufacturing processes to industrial systems.
Applications such as Robin not only require a host of systems to connect and transmit data from mobile and IoT devices, they also perform various analytical processes to create the workplace, operational, brand and IT experiences.
What’s more, outside of four workplace walls, countless opportunities exist to incorporate this data – think connected cars, smart parking meters and traffic control, where external connectivity solutions, such as Long Term Evolution or low-powered wireless signals, are incorporated.
Focus on the foundation first
The Intelligent Edge consists of three layers. Layer one is the foundation. This is the infrastructure containing familiar technologies (local area network, wireless local area network, wide area network) and contemporary innovations like Bluetooth, Low Energy sensors and converged edge systems.
In layer two, local area platform technologies (mobility or mobile-first platforms) manage the devices within your enterprise, while wide area platforms use universal IoT and focus on connecting the billions of devices spread across a region.
Finally, a robust partnership ecosystem, necessary for developing the apps and services that deliver the experiences enterprises need to make their digital workplaces run, forms layer three. A typical ecosystem contains next-generation innovators and enterprise players like Microsoft.
The key to success
It’s time to realise the potential of large-scale IoT. Here are my five top tips for introducing these connected devices into your organisation:
1. Take stock of your environment
It’s impossible to develop a successful strategy without understanding where you are today. Profile your endpoints, the solutions serving them and the underlying infrastructure and architectures.
2. Ensure you’re extracting all available data
This requires modern wired and wireless technologies from the data centre to the edge, as well as solutions for connecting any remote users and systems beyond.
3. Fully safeguard your enterprise
Adopt technologies that protect data in motion and at rest. Include innovative solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence for detection, as well as for quarantining and disconnecting devices exhibiting suspicious activity.
4. Unlock knowledge
Deploy solutions that collect information about your employees, customers and the world at-large. The technologies help turn behaviors into insights you can monetise.
5. Drive profitability
Embrace smart innovations that aggregate and analyse your collected data, in combination with other third-party feeds, to uncover new ways to get the most from your employees, customers, processes and supply chain.
Regardless of your industry or enterprise, adopting a modern Intelligent Edge architecture could be critical to harnessing the potential of IoT at scale for your business. IoT will transform business as we know it today by offering benefits such as cost savings, improved security and better customer experience.
By Morten Illum, VP of EMEA, HPE Aruba