IoT and the BPO industry

Growth of the IoT business will account for billions by 2020 according to the world’s top research firms. From $10.3 billion in 2014, IDC Research Inc. expects that number to grow to $29.5 billion in 2020 for a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.2%.

“The IoT may open the door for specialized support BPO. Companies that specialize in aftermarket warranty support may be the big winners, as IoT is a natural extension of their businesses.”

~ Brendan Read, Frost & Sullivan analyst

This means that what comes with the potential to grow is the need to create more complex products. Since IoT would enable automation, it is a lot easier to handle.

Before going into the details, IoT is the common term coined to describe a digital world wherein living things aren’t the only one communicating to each other but also machines and gadgets through the cloud. It is an abbreviation for “Internet of Things”. In this so-called digital ecosystem, your printer can notify you through your smartphone calendar when to buy ink or when it needs cleaning. Also, opening the door and turning on the lights after a long day’s work can automatically turn on all connections. With this, closing the door can automatically ask the AC to turn up depending on the current temperature inside the house.

“The whole point of having an IoT deployment is to gain greater efficiencies,”

Concerns and challenges

In a recently published paper from Garter entitled The Impact of the Internet of Things on Data Centers, Gartner identifies the principal issues that are going to have to be resolved before enterprises can start to benefit from the IoT. Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner, summarized the problem as follows:

1. Security

If the digitalization and automation of millions of devices will create a whole new security landscape as enterprises attempt to protect themselves, it will also create new opportunities for operational technology security providers.

Already, many industry-specific security platforms are being developed for specialist areas like industrialized systems, medical equipment, and air and defense sectors and, in many cases, being integrated into the platforms being developed by equipment providers for those industries. Such solutions are aimed at securing various aspects of specific devices, such as smart meters, or focusing on tackling platform-specific vulnerabilities.

2. Enterprises

There will also be significant security challenges from the increasing amount of data with the myriad of devices increasing security complexity. This, in turn, will have an impact on availability requirements, which are also expected to increase, putting real-time business processes at risk.

3. Consumer Privacy

Related to this is the challenge of securing the personal data of individuals as the consumer goods they use become increasingly digitized. Already there are issues around metering equipment and digitalized automobiles.

This is particularly challenging as the information generated by IoT is a key to bringing better services and the management of such devices. Security will have to be integrated as part of IoT infrastructure.

4. Data

The impact of the IoT on storage is two-pronged in types of data to be stored: personal data (consumer-driven) and big data (enterprise-driven). Already in use in key verticals such as healthcare and financial services, big data is transforming how and why companies collect and store data.

IT administrators that are already tasked with keeping the storage centers running, will also have to figure out how to store, protect and make all the incoming data accessible. If, as Gartner, estimated, storage servers are only being used to between 30 and 50 percent of capacity, the physical capabilities are there. Managing them, however, is an entirely different problem.

5. Storage Management

However, even if the capacity is available now, there will be further demands made on storage and one that will have to be addressed as the need to access this information becomes more important. Businesses will have weigh up the economics of storage against the value of IoT information.

6. Server Technologies

The impact of IoT on the server market will be largely focused on increased investment in key vertical industries and organizations related to those industries where IoT can be profitable, or add significant value.

Some organizations that manage and consume data collected from a huge array of devices will require additional compute capacity and may well increase server budgets if there is a business case for it.

7. Data Center Network

Existing data center WAN (Wide Area Network) links have been built for moderate-bandwidth requirements created by our current use of technology. However, as the amount of data being transferred is set to increase dramatically, the need for expanded bandwidth grows.

The result of all this, the research points out, is that because of the scale of the data being created it will no longer be economically feasible to store data at a single location.

IoT Wave

Internet of Things can effectively decrease costs, enhance asset utilization and productivity, and enhance process efficiency. Some of its benefits are to enhance optimization, and generate new business streams like big data management.

It will also encourage the need for capacity management, and data centers will demand for better automated capacity planning tools that can keep up with the demand. Apart from data management, IoT can open up potential opportunities in the areas of security, storage management, data center network, and data analytics. In this case, real-time visibility of the logistics chain can help a lot. As more and more enterprises adapt to the IoT ecosystem, there will come a time in the future that even small and medium enterprises are likely to upgrade their current tools to “smart” machines that allow them to be part of the IoT.

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