The Internet of Things Brings Great Potential—and Some Concerns

With products like Google Home gaining in popularity, it’s safe to say that The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking off in earnest. Even CES 2017 made IoT a centerpiece, showcasing appliances that include “smart” connectivity as a standard feature, rather than an upsell. IoT’s potential is unmistakable and exciting, and has paved the way for new markets, the concept of smart cities, and a truly interconnected world. However, cybersecurity threats often ride hot on the heels of new technology, and IoT-enabled technologies present prime targets.

It used to be that the firewall was the definitive form of Internet security. But in today’s digital world, businesses face more complex and sophisticated attacks that do not discriminate or have any respect for how large or small your business is. For this, you need only look at the cyberattacks recently suffered by some of the world’s best known websites.

A business’s cloud networks, infrastructure, applications, and data must be as secure as possible to make IoT a success. Our personal data is something as consumers we probably haven’t historically thought too much about. However, with hacks and data leaks constantly in the news, it’s something we now must pay special heed. 

For today’s businesses, gathering and consuming huge volumes of customer data is driven by the growing pressure to deliver exceptional personalized customer experience. But this in turn presents two key issues for today’s CIO: keeping the data secure and figuring out what to do with it all. With great data comes great responsibility, and today businesses must be able to extract insight and have robust security measures in place to avoid costly cybersecurity breaches. This is especially important because simple association with a customer data breach today means falling share prices, delays in prospective new business ventures and negative impacts on a business’s reputation.

What can be done? Well, first, for global enterprises, the size and complexity of their customer data can be challenging to manage in the public cloud. So organizations should implement the systems and architectures that best address their needs for security, compliance, and data integration.

Today, most cloud solutions are available only in proprietary, multi-tenant, shared-infrastructure and single-cloud configurations. There’s little or no opportunity for companies to decide where they want their applications and data to reside. The options are many—public, private, within your own country’s borders, on-premises, or a hybrid combination. But often, the only choice is the vendor’s proprietary cloud. Modern CRM solutions can support these complex requirements by providing a nimble and powerful service that allows businesses to thrive and stay secure in a connected world.

Furthermore, more data doesn’t mean more knowledge: Terabytes of data are only useful in the business world if you possess a means to make sense of them. CRM technology can form an important part of this sense-making process and it’s very powerful when deployed in support of an IoT network. The IoT offers huge potential for CRM platforms to build a single view of the customer and create a frictionless and positive customer experience.

From geo-location insight to knowing what time the customer turns on his home furnace, the IoT is capable of providing detailed insight into consumers’ lives. But the wealth of data is as overwhelming as it is exciting. A new channel means another level of customer expectation: They want to know that every touch point they have with a company is unified. Businesses must learn how to incorporate new channels of data into an already complex web.

Clearly, IoT holds great potential for everyone. It also creates a significant need for businesses to maintain a secure infrastructure. Technologies like modern CRM can help here, capitalizing on IoT and ensuring security while also delivering another critical piece to business success—customer engagement. 

Rich Green is chief product officer at SugarCRM. Green has more than 25 years of technology experience and has demonstrated success as part of both Fortune 500 and early-stage companies. He joined Sun Microsystems in 1989 where he held a variety of roles, ultimately serving as executive vice president of software, in which he was responsible for Sun's software products strategy and development, including the acquisition of MySQL, and driving Sun’s product, licensing and support businesses. After Sun, Green served as CTO of Nokia and executive vice president of the consumer and enterprise business at Nuance Communications. He most recently led products and technology at an early-stage Internet of Things company bringing connected sensors and data analytics to commercial-scale energy control.

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