“It’s not about IoT,” said Steve Darrah, director of national solution services at Intel. “It’s about what you can do with it.”

Internet of Things technologies are having a major impact on numerous industries, as Darrah and other experts stated during a panel discussion at CDW’s Improving Productivity with Digital Transformation Summit this spring. For many, IoT remains a futuristic solution, but for organizations that have taken the plunge, it’s delivering real results

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Industry leaders at the summit explained several important trends now emerging as IoT projects take off:

Wearables Lead the Way

The panel listed a plethora of IoT use cases that depend on wearable technologies. “Nursing homes are using wearable devices to track seniors and determine if there are outliers — people who have high heart rates, haven’t moved much, who might be at risk for maybe a heart attack or a stroke,” said Darrah. Wearables, he said, are also being used in sectors such as the energy industry to track employees in case of an emergency; in sports to measure athletic performance and possibly prevent injury; and at resorts and amusement parks, where guests wear radio frequency identification (RFID) bracelets to unlock their rooms and make purchases.

Security Is a Top Priority

The new connection points created by IoT sensors, panelists noted, create new vulnerabilities. They advised organizations to mitigate these risks by following cybersecurity best practices, rather than by avoiding IoT solutions altogether. “I can have 100 percent security by cutting a cable, but then I could also put the business out of business,” said Brian Self, a solution architect at CDW. “We need to balance functionality with security.”

Some organizations, Self noted, are missing simple steps that shore up their networks, such as changing default passwords on IoT devices and practicing effective network segmentation.

Some Infrastructure Is Already in Place

Panelists noted that some elements of IoT — such as smartphones, IP-enabled cameras and wireless connectivity — are already in place at many organizations.

“There are certain core technologies that are central to what we’re doing,” said Link Simpson, Digital Transformation and IoT practice lead for CDW. “In general, it’s basically networking. So you’re going to take all these disparate systems that are out there, and you’re going to figure out how you translate them and interface them to an IP network. Pervasive Wi-Fi is going to be a big one.”

Analytics Are Key to Creating Value

While sensors are an essential component of IoT deployments, the panelists said they’re only the first step. Organizations must find ways to use the data generated by these sensors to enhance productivity, improve customer service or otherwise create new value. “IoT is really transitioning from being about the sensors,” said Simpson. “It’s about the analytics, the data that’s coming in. Now that you have that new information, how do you make better business decisions?”

Learn how CDW can help you deploy IoT solutions that achieve digital transformation and empower your workforce.

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