In recent times, we’ve seen a change in the way our customers are working. They’re extending beyond the boundaries of traditional infrastructure, with an influx of IoT-ready and mobile devices creating a huge increase in the number of access points at the far reaches of their network and with that a pool of additional data that could yield business value.
And as this phenomenon continues to mature, its integration and management is becoming an important consideration for business leaders and IT managers alike. So how can you capitalise on the opportunities the growing number of devices represents, but at the same time recognise genuine value from the data being created to inform decisions, all while keeping yourself protected from new threats that come with more things connected to your network? You need to understand the Intelligent Edge.
The devices connecting with your network could literally be anything. On the one hand you have conventional IT – recognisable devices like notebooks and smartphones. Conversely, you’ll increasingly have operational technologies (OT) connecting too – devices as wide ranging as sensors on doors, to industrial controls on machines and wireless devices like thermostats.
All of them are creating, collecting and informing data on almost anything to do with your business. Whether that means how many people are on the premises, where they’re working, how much stock you have in your warehouse or the temperature of the boardroom. This data has the potential to provide incredible insights into the functioning of your business that can allow you to make smarter decisions that dramatically impact processes and financial health, as well as helping to craft a more productive and enjoyable place for your people to work.
Here’s three tips to get you thinking about the role of the Intelligent Edge in your business and what you need to be ready for.
More technology hooking up with your network naturally creates a bigger attack surface. More devices, with differing levels of security all of which could represent a vulnerability. Of course, this all assumes you know what’s connected in the first place. And therein lies the biggest challenge of securing your business in the face of this fast-moving trend. You cannot manage or protect what you don’t know. So, the first step is to make sure you can see what’s on your network in order to properly protect it.
The intelligent edge relies on great connectivity both inside and outside your business. Ensuring the ‘things’ that need to connect can do so reliably and securely is paramount. Unfortunately, most traditional networks simply aren’t built for today’s reality – the volume and variety of devices places strains on everything from network bandwidth to traffic priorities. Simply adding more access points, switches and routers can offer temporary respite, but creates administration overheads on stretched IT teams. This often illustrates the bigger issue that your network may need bringing into the modern era to help you capture the opportunities faster and ensure you’re properly protected while you do it.
Finally, you need to do something intelligent with the data you now have at your fingertips. Thinking about the processes the data can inform, and then enabling it to do some good is critical. This might mean using location services to help your people locate each other and available places to work in your offices or improving a critical manufacturing process with real-time sensor data. Thanks to new network technologies and powerful business intelligence and analytical tools, many of these services are easily accessible and are ready to help you mine for gains that add value and give you an edge.
Whether you like it or not, your network is changing. More things are connecting with it; the product of corporate owned IT, staff bringing their own technology to work, guests arriving with foreign devices plus all sorts of incredible OT. With this in mind, its really is a question of how you respond to this situation. Allowed to develop unchecked it will become an overwhelming security threat to your business and will strangle the performance of your network. However, with proper management and some strategic perspective it could be game-changing in so many ways.
We’re already working with our customers to help with exactly this. From rethinking the network infrastructure supporting your intelligent edge, to assisting with the vision for how you can take advantage of the opportunities.
To learn more about IoT and the Intelligent Edge get in touch with a member of the team.