The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming jobs in multiple sectors. Factory and manufacturing managers are being empowered by the possibilities of the smart factory. Healthcare practitioners are delivering more innovative and more efficient care thanks to connected healthcare devices.
But what about professionals who already work in the realm of digital technology? What about the people who are already in charge of organisations’ IT infrastructures, who now need to deal with the vastly increased complexity and dynamism engendered by the IoT? What, in short, does the IoT mean for the role of the CIO?
The challenges are multiple, and ever-changing. This is because the IoT is vastly increasing the scale, the complexity, and the pace of change in corporate IT infrastructures. After all, every time a new connected device is added to the network – and remember, this could be something as small and simple as a sensor measuring the temperature of a machine – then a new endpoint has technically been added to that organisation’s infrastructure. That’s an endpoint that needs to be protected from malicious cybercrime, and which needs to be identified, tracked and measured.
Scale that process up to the level of an organisation that is incorporate connected devices or smart sensors throughout its infrastructure – and, furthermore, continually deploying new devices or moving them around – and it is easy to see how the CIO’s entire role could quickly become swallowed up by IoT management.
This is why it is so important for organisations entering the realm of the IoT to seek out management platforms like ThingWorx, which automate much of the complexity involved in IoT deployments. Indeed, the four areas that ThingWorx covers – connecting devices, creating apps for all uses, analysing the machine data generated by an IoT infrastructure, and using augmented reality to experience all the connected things across the network – illustrate just how complex the task of managing the IoT can be for CIOs who are new to the game.
Securing the IoT is a problem all of its own, and while CIOs in larger organisations will typically have a separate CSO to take on those challenges, it is still important to consider where purpose-built IoT technology can help deliver security at scale. This, of course, is where Device Authority comes in.
But it’s not all a world of challenges to be overcome. The IoT also brings huge opportunities and potential for CIOs, because it harnesses data from within the organisation that would otherwise go untapped. By consolidating and analysing that data, and integrating it with other information sources, forward-thinking CIOs can grant themselves access to a wealth of insights that would have been unimaginable to their predecessors.
And this, we think, is how the role of the CIO is changing most dramatically in the IoT era. Whereas CIOs of the past might be more likely to think in terms of network infrastructure and hardware, the IoT is enabling more and more CIOs to think in terms of data analysis and intelligent insights – and, in turn, to link their role more tightly than ever before with overall business strategy.
After all, a CIO in charge of a well-managed IoT infrastructure can provide the board with never-before-seen insights into how efficiently different processes are being run, how staff are being allocated and even how the company’s products or services are being used by customers. The CIO can advise on how best to maintain the organisation’s hardware, when to alter its production cycles, or how to allocate its fleet.
Ultimately, then, the CIO in the IoT era is better-positioned than ever before to offer tangible business value, to gain a position on the board and be a true driving force behind the organisation’s strategy. That should be enough to get any CIO excited – if they can deal proactively with the management and security challenges.