Does Your IT Enterprise Have an Internet of Things (IoT) Strategy?

The Internet of Things (IOT) – the technology world is abuzz about it. Today, more objects are connected to the Internet than there are people in the world, and the number of IoT objects is expected to grow to between 25 and 50 billion by 2020, depending on which analyst you read. Security cameras, household and business appliances, lighting fixtures, climate control systems, water treatment plants, cars, traffic lights, fetal heart monitors, and power plant controls, just to name a few—the opportunities to collect and use data are seemingly endless.

What does all this mean for enterprise IT?

As the Industry Engagement Manager in Intel IT EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), I’m working with my colleagues to implement IoT solutions that align to our IT IoT strategy.

Why does IT need an IoT strategy you ask? Well, considering the growth of IoT solutions over time, business groups in many companies are looking for their own IoT point solution to solve their problems. They may not come to IT for the solution. Many may implement differing solutions, such as sensors, gateways, protocols, and platforms. This is not the most cost-effective or efficient approach for Intel for many reasons. Who will manage and support these point solutions over time? Who will verify that they are secure? Can the network handle the new data volume growth? If the solution “breaks,” will the business groups ask IT to fix them – if so, IT may inherit solutions that do not match the enterprise architecture needs and therefore may need to be redesigned, replaced, or both. These are all important questions, and there are many other reasons to have an IoT strategy, which I will discuss in a future blog. As IT professionals, we need to have a seat at the table when IoT solutions are being defined, to ensure the business gets it right the first time.

We recently published a white paper, “Integrating IoT Sensor Technology into the Enterprise,” describing the best practices we have developed relating to IoT. The paper shares the 14 best practices we use that enable us to successfully launch an IoT project. We hope that by sharing these best practices, we can help others to also successfully implement IoT solutions in their enterprise.

What we’ve learned is that once you’ve defined the process, IoT projects can be implemented in an efficient and streamlined fashion. Each step does require some effort to define its requirements, but once the steps are defined, they can be used in a repeatable manner. To summarize our defined best practices, here’s the flow:

Blog-Roadmap.png

Pre-Explore the Technology and Concept

  • Best Practice #1: Build an IoT Team
  • Best Practice #2: Define the IoT System

Explore the Project Feasibility and Value

  • Best Practice #3: Determine the Business Value
  • Best Practice #4: Acquire Stakeholder Agreement and Funding

Plan and Scope the Project

  • Best Practice #5: Classify the Sensor Data
  • Best Practice #6: Design the Network Infrastructure and Choose IoT Devices
  • Best Practice #7: Review Environmental Conditions
  • Best Practice #8: Define Space and Electrical Power Needs

Develop and Deploy the IoT System

  • Best Practice #9: Secure the IoT Devices and Data
  • Best Practice #10: Align with Privacy and Corporate Governance Policies
  • Best Practice #11: Design for Scalability
  • Best Practice #12: Integrate and Manage the IoT Devices
  • Best Practice #13: Establish a Support Model
  • Best Practice #14: Plan the Resources

Using these best practices, we’ve done many IoT proofs of concept across our enterprise, using components of the Intel® IoT Platform and the Intel® Intelligent Systems Framework. Over time we are adding elements to the Intel IoT platform deployed in our environment. We are currently using many aspects of the Intel IoT platform, and so are other companies, and they are turning to Intel for advice on how best to implement their IoT solutions. For example, Siemens has adopted Intel’s IoT hardware and software stack for their smart parking initiative.

Our mission is to standardize on an end-to-end Intel IoT Platform-based solution that meets the wide and varied IoT needs of Intel, a global organization. Intel IT wants to transform the business by providing the IoT “plumbing” – that is, the platform building blocks – that enable Intel’s business groups to easily deploy IoT solutions when they need them.

Examples of IoT technology enabled by Intel include the Intel® Quark™ microcontroller D2000, Intel Gateways featuring Intel® Quark™ or Intel® Atom™ processors, and Intel® Security (McAfee) solutions integrated within our Wind River OS (Linux* or RTOS-VxWorks*). Wind River, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel, also has an edge management solution for centrally managing edge devices, known as Helix* Device Cloud.

The IoT projects that we’ve done so far have shown great promise, and have resulted in significant ROI. Fully integrating the IoT into the enterprise isn’t an overnight project – it’s a continual journey and is a significant change in how business is done. But putting the building blocks in place now will make the journey shorter and easier, and will enable Intel to fully realize the business value of the IoT. You can learn more about our other IOT projects by reviewing our recently published 2015-2016 Intel IT Annual Performance Report.

I’d be interested to hear what other enterprise IT professionals are doing with IoT. Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below – I look forward to the conversation!