By 2025, there will be an estimated 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices worldwide. With the push towards smart cities driving much of this, organisations need to partner with specialists who understand the infrastructure requirements of this new, digitally connected landscape.

Grant Bennett, Country Manager: South African & Sub-Saharan Africa at SUSE, says: “IoT consists of user devices; data centres, and software working together to capture and analyse data. Given how open source dominates data centres, the cloud, and the devices running IoT solutions, the importance of integrating effectively with existing enterprise operations is significant. However, it is not about ripping and replacing existing infrastructure, but rather enhancing it with IoT-friendly solutions.”

Many analysts believe that IoT is the cornerstone of transforming an organisation into a digital business. Even though IoT business models are still maturing, they will fundamentally shape how business models will operate in the future. This revolves around improving enterprise efficiency by capturing data at the edge and analysing it in ways previously not possible.

Bennett suggests the flexibility open source provides in this regard cannot be ignored. “However, the specialist skills to unlock its potential does not always reside in a company. While some might be hesitant about outsourcing such a critical component, being able to work with a trusted partner that has experience in managing IoT in an enterprise-class environment is invaluable.”

Paul Vermaak, Cloud Solution Architect, Data and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft Middle East & Africa concurs: “IoT is a business revolution led by technology, so it is important for business to plan around its adoption to understand how it can support the business needs.

“While there has been exponential growth with IoT adoption within the enterprise, the uptake is not what the industry had anticipated – not because of the lack of capabilities but, rather, because of the complexities of doing it right, which is why finding the right partner becomes crucial.”

Through this partnership-based approach, an organisation can ensure that security and data management obstacles that are potential IoT stumbling blocks, are dealt with effectively. Furthermore, developing business cases to show the potential of IoT as an enterprise-class solution must take priority instead of blindly embracing the technology.

“Technology for its own sake has become an easy temptation to follow in the digital environment. However, businesses need to do the fundamentals first to ensure that when the time comes to leverage IoT data, they are able to do so securely and effectively,” says Bennett.

Even though working with embedded sensors and systems might not seem all that new despite how IoT is positioned, the way software is developed to unlock even more potential in the hardware is where a lot of innovation is taking place.

Says Vermaak: “In fact, today we see businesses embracing IoT to drive business outcomes across a wide range of use cases – from predicting and preventing equipment failures, optimising smart buildings for space utilisation and energy management and improving patient outcomes and worker safety.”

Again, this is where the power of open source comes into play, says Bennett. “Having a completely customisable software environment right down to the operating system level, means a business can use the connected devices in the field for a myriad of applications. Even better, the software can be easily updated remotely as requirements change.”

So, even though some might consider IoT to be an emerging technology, the reality is quite different.

“Various industries have already begun embracing and adopting IoT services for effective and efficient operations, which have produced great yield allowing them to manage resources and allocation of staff according to their skills,” says Vermaak.

“Organisations must embrace connected devices and the data they generate as the means to become even more competitive. Leveraging the cross-functional potential of IoT devices ensures a business can continually adapt to changing market conditions. Driving this enablement is open source software that is completely customisable to suit demand,” Bennett concludes.

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