How Is IT Addressing An Always-Connected Enterprise?

Ensuring Best Business Practices Across The Board

Steven Lerner

With more endpoints now than ever before in the enterprise, it is ultimately up to IT to proactively secure data. The role of IT changes forever as a result of having everything always on and always connected in the enterprise.

“I think once people, process, product and technology all intersect, that's when we start to see the role of IT changing to one focused more on the management of process and less on the particular projects, tools, or apps they've traditionally been responsible for creating,” said Ryan Martin, principal analyst with ABI Research. “Largely it has to do with data gravity. Wherever the data resides, presumably that's also where the applications and the processing happens. Historically, a lot of that data has resided on premises. That means that local IT staff have been doing a lot of the application development and solution architecting more and more as that data gets ratified and dumped into the cloud, as well as the services that are built on top of those applications.” IoT intersects with other components of digital transformation, such as AI, cloud computing, and data analytics. Consequently, IT departments are evolving from isolated silos to working collectively so that systems are updated and secure.

“They’re focusing on transforming their infrastructures to be more agile by reducing infrastructure component silos and management silos,” said Mike Leone, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. “This can be done by deploying converged or hyperconverged infrastructures that are software-defined and/or leveraging the public cloud where infrastructure and applications can be made accessible through as a service options.”

An increasingly connected enterprise means that there are more security risks, and it is up to IT to make sure that access is secured for every single endpoint — no matter how insignificant each one might be. For example, one of the biggest attack vectors right now in offices are printers and faxes due to the Bluetooth capabilities that hackers could easily manipulate to breach the company network.

“It's always a sucker punch that gets you, right?” said Brian Laughlin, a technical fellow with Boeing. “The same thing that offers us the problems also, if we invert our thinking, can offer a solution in the form of keys to authenticate and authorize against. Through things such as geofencing, I can check the presence of other things that should be in your environment.”

In addition to IT, where can lines of business sync to ensure best practices across the board? About 75% of IoT initiatives fail, with the lack of coordination between departments as one of the main reasons. Lines of business must work together on the technological side of IoT, such as making sure that sensors are connected, as well as the larger business goals of IoT, such as knowing which data to harvest.

Martin said that it is almost a misnomer to say that IoT is not being used because it is a representative of a collection of technologies and capabilities. The understanding of the problem in a business has more to do with IT and operational technology (OT) integration and collaboration.

“With these IoT projects, the challenge is people-based really, and so are the security threats for that matter,” said Martin. “The challenge happens and you have OT folks using IT tools without coordination, and cooperation. Similarly, IT folks need to understand the world of the OT professional in order to design, cure, and implement effective tools in the IT department. What happens with IoT and connected technologies in general is that the tool sets used by both operations and IT professionals have a lot more in common. For endeavoring in new IoT projects, teams find success when they inspire that level of collaboration and coordination early. One way to do that would be taking someone from the IT department, an IT manager, and putting that person on an OT team for a specific period of time to make sure that functional requirements and capabilities are being appropriately communicated.”

This was originally published within a report on Enterprise Mobility Exchange.