IOT barometer (Part 3): Data integration and safety

As in previous weeks, we are going to analyze real data from the Internet of Things in the business world based on Vodafone's IoT 2016 Barometer.
Date 17/02/2017
Category IoT
In this third and final article (see IoT Barometer part 1: commitment and transformation and IoT Barometer part 2: Internet of Things as a business process) we focus on two vital issues in the development of this technology: the integration of data obtained with other systems and the security risks involved.

The study describes both aspects in the following conclusions:

Integration makes it possible to optimise data

The data generated by the IoT allows companies to be more competitive and to use them effectively, it is necessary to integrate them with other systems.
A top-of-the-range car manufacturer based in Germany explained its experience in this regard: "We are beginning to realise that if we could consolidate all this data we would fully understand the world around us. The question is: what data is most valuable to us?".
Collecting data is only the first step, IoT applications must be synchronized and integrated with other IT systems: from ERP´s and cloud hosting platforms to analytics tools and mobile applications (see image 1).

Integration varies from one sector to another

61% of the retail companies integrate IoT with other more basic systems such as ERP. The electrical sector is the most advanced in the use of mobile devices to access data (76%) and in the automotive sector, the most advanced, 59% of companies store data in the cloud and 68% use Big Data for decision making.

Full integration works, but it's expensive

Effectively integrating IoT projects is not an easy task, some of the companies surveyed have included it in their long-term business plan. For example, a retail and distribution company based in China explained that this could require a profound organizational change: "We see it likely to create a new data analytics department to help manage all the information collected and share it.

Sharing data can be difficult for organizations without IoT experience

Sharing customer data can be of great value, but companies need to be aware of customer data regulations and potential conflicts of ownership.
Companies that use IoT feel more secure in sharing information, either because they have experience or because organizations that are more enthusiastic about sharing data are also more enthusiastic about adopting new technologies.

As for the integration of data into IoT, analysts draw two conclusions to be taken into account:

  • If IoT is based on something, it is data, so companies should ask themselves "What business objectives do we want to achieve and what data do we need to achieve it?" rather than "what objects can we connect? In fact, the starting point should be the ERP, they should ask themselves: what does my company need to operate more efficiently and what IoT solution is needed to achieve it?
  • In multi-client systems, such as IoT, stakeholders must agree on certain standards (who can use the data and for what purpose). Initially, data exchange will emerge around common interest groups, for example, in intelligent cities, where different types of data are shared with third parties to develop applications.
Security: companies implement measures to manage risk

Security risks exist in all areas of IT and IoT is no exception. The study has asked companies why they care about security in IoT and the main reason is that IoT is an "unknown" yet, risks are not well known, and organizations have not yet developed the knowledge and processes to manage them (see image 2).

The second reason is the complexity of IoT projects, which involves many elements and makes risk management difficult, and the third is related to reputation and possible customer reactions to the data collected.

Information security must be based on effective management with shared responsibilities,
 uniform application
 of policies and regular monitoring. At present, this is not happening in IoT

"Security on the IoT is a question of balance: protecting the organization's information and, at the same time, letting it continue to function. Our team knows that IoT must enrich the organisation, not slow it down," said a UK-based transport company defending a collaborative position.

The solution can be an integral solution provider of IoT

91% of respondents stress the importance of working with a full solution provider on IoT projects. They can take on greater responsibility in areas of IT security, in addition to providing advice, specialist services and training for internal teams.

The barometer shows that there was no consensus when asked who should be responsible for the safety of their IoT projects as picture 3 shows.

However, one of our forecasts for 2016 was that "companies were going to stop leveraging on security as a pretext for not taking initiatives" and it has been met, security is not a pretext for not undertaking an IoT project.

The barometer concludes that, in order to undertake a IoT project safely, companies must identify the threats to which they are exposed in their particular situation and act in relation to the risk, choose the right partners, and finally accept that a security breach can occur, and ensure that, in such a case, the impact is minimised.

Gartner, the prestigious technology consulting firm, has recently launched a press release, which comes in handy to conclude this series of articles. The statement announces that 8.4 trillion "things" will be connected in 2017, 31% more than in 2016, and that consumer IoT applications will represent 63% of the total. You can consult the complete press release here.

If you want more information about the technologies linked to the Internet of Things, you can ask for information about our practical courses:

Deploying IoT projects: from Sensor to Balanced Scorecard - Zaragoza

Deploying IoT projects: from Sensor to Balanced Scorecard - Madrid