Internet of Things or Pervasive Connectivity

The Internet of Things (IoT) gets a lot of attention in blogs and podcasts. Tracking our fitness with an app is convenient; connecting our refrigerators to the Internet so we can access it with our smart phones seems exciting; and “answering” the doorbell while on vacation gives us an increased feeling of security. But how might the increase in devices connected to the Internet or within our networks affect us as planning professionals?

I recently heard an interesting term that gives a better idea of what IoT is: Pervasive Connectivity. We are getting to a stage where “everything” will be connected in some form or fashion. Devices may not be connected to the Internet directly, but over our home or corporate networks instead.

Here a few items to consider:

  • Security
  • Long-term viability
  • Unintended consequences
  • Interpersonal interactions
  • Supportability
  • Number of applications now critical to an organization
  • Configuration management

Security: While you may not have any IoT devices in your organization, how many employees are using them at home? How secure are the applications on their phones that are connected to your network? Can you segregate access from handheld devices? If you have IoT devices in your organization, how secure is that connectivity? Remember, the least secure portion of your network will be where malicious attacks occur. Would it not be ironic to have your Internet-connected refrigerator be the conduit for losing personally identifiable or proprietary information?

Long-Term Viability: Many pervasive connected devices rely on SaaS/PaaS/IaaS providers. What happens if those providers decide to stop the service? This has just occurred, impacting consumers of the Revolv smart-home hub. Google announced the shutdown of the Revolv service; after May 15 the smart-home hub will no longer work as the service will be shutdown. This is a concern for all *aaS offerings, and is something that should be considered.

Unintended Consequences: What are the power/battery needs of the devices? Items that were not a concern previously now must be considered. What are the access requirements – both onsite and remote? Will your organization need the development of new manual processes? How will the functions being supported by the IoT devices be performed if connectivity is lost? Are there legal/regulatory impacts that did not exist before?

Interpersonal interactions: A recent study suggests that people’s feeling of being ignored given the use of handheld devices has decreased. However, the question in my mind is – is that because the use of handheld devices has decreased during interpersonal interactions or are people just becoming conditioned to being ignored? With the increase of pervasive connected devices, will the need, or feeling of need, increase because there is now more information flowing to smart devices (alerts, monitoring, etc.)?

Take time to consider how your organization is being impacted by IoT devices; what you should be prepared to consider as they are introduced to your organization; and how your BCP program may be impacted.

Richard Long
Richard Long is one of MHA’s practice team leaders for Technology and Disaster Recovery related engagements. He has been responsible for the successful execution of MHA business continuity and disaster recovery engagements in industries such as Energy & Utilities, Government Services, Healthcare, Insurance, Risk Management, Travel & Entertainment, Consumer Products, and Education. Prior to joining MHA, Richard held Senior IT Director positions at PetSmart (NASDAQ: PETM) and Avnet, Inc. (NYSE: AVT) and has been a senior leader across all disciplines of IT. He has successfully led international and domestic disaster recovery, technology assessment, crisis management and risk mitigation engagements.
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