Modern professionals have done commendable work of implementing Internet of Things (IoT) devices within their company. But many IoT deployments swiftly hit a stumbling block due to the lack of information ownership and enterprise-wide data access.

Teodora Gaici

Author Teodora Gaici | Copperberg

In a world battered by the COVID-19 outbreak, IoT is expeditiously modernizing data management initiatives.

The pandemic has drawn needed attention to the unintended consequences of pursuing business continuity through fragmented and rigid IT infrastructures. Firms used to clutch at outdated IT assets — but today, they are viewing things in reverse. Despite their previously rosy assessments of legacy IT infrastructures, many companies are now positioning cutting-edge IoT systems as core enablers for ongoing operations. Research confirms this premise, outlining “the growing focus of organizations in reducing operational costs by incorporating advanced tools and techniques that assist in effectively managing the equipment.” The sector’s demand for customized industrial IoT solutions is also growing significantly.

This commitment to prioritize IoT innovation is inevitably igniting a transformation of industry standards and implicitly — data management. As any revolutionizing force, IoT is driving “a significant shift in the requirements for storing and managing data,” according to Gartner analysts — and it strengthens the move to potentially unknown territories, such as “non-relational forms of data persistence that enable high-speed and high-volume data.”

The lack of IoT standardization prevents industry players from understanding newly emergent requirements for data. It’s often aging and highly inflexible IT system landscapes that hinder a firm’s connectivity needs and real-time data collection — but so is the absence of standardization across the IoT landscape. Beyond the sheer amount of information generated by smart devices, experts not only identify IoT data as being “inherently multi-dimensional and noisy by nature,” but also tremendously perishable. The collection of IoT data can’t, therefore, fit in a traditional database. But without specialized IoT standards, professionals may find it nearly impossible to recognize shifting data requirements.

Another probable reason for not achieving value from IoT deployments is the narrow grip firms currently have on as-built information ownership. As-built data, or in experts’ words, “the information related to the raw parts, materials, and processes to build a product,” is traditionally owned by service managers. More often than not, platform owners and service-providing departments have the right to manipulate the data they are storing; alternatively, they can share a limited amount of information with select users. IoT-related efforts, however, should not only converge on the same data sets; when all aspects of business are enriched with IoT data, the company-wide involvement of stakeholders also becomes crucial. As evidenced by Christian Renaud, Research Director at 451 Research:

“The best data strategies are co-created by stakeholders including the business, the IT department, and the operations team working together.”

This type of reasoning is not foreign to industry players. From finance to research and development to sales and supply chain management, all aspects of business can capitalize on data — but if only a fraction of data is accessed, exchanged, and used wisely, IoT efforts will meet with varying degrees of success.

Many IoT-related impediments are commonly rooted in the restricted ownership of information and the lack of company-wide data access. Therefore, much of the conversation about IoT innovation centers on a fundamental question: Can professionals become custodians of data to patently facilitate the spread of information for greater stakeholder involvement?

There Is Mounting Pressure on Stakeholders to Be Looped In on the Firm’s IoT Efforts

Efficient data management is among the primary factors that create IoT value for stakeholders. Equally important to veritably meet stakeholder needs is — as argued by the NSW Government IoT Policy Guidance — seeking engagement. But before anything else, it’s essential to consider if the firm’s ”planned data uses […] deliver value to the community [and provide] transparency and choice around what data is collected and how it will be used.”

As IoT programs aren’t a one-man performance, the IoT Policy Guidance broadly encourages industry players to consult with stakeholders while designing data requirements; one thing is to acknowledge the needs of each stakeholder, and another is to practically factor in their involvement.

An instructive example comes from Bright Wolf. Under the influence of company-wide IoT initiatives, this trusted provider of industrial IoT solutions recently developed Zero Waste Engineering™ — a methodology that allows firms to:

  • Validate the business case for a broad-gauge IoT strategy;
  • Design plans that address the requirements of each stakeholder;
  • Create an adaptable data processing system that communicates outcomes to stakeholders.

Another standard procedure for getting stakeholder involvement is to identify a Data Governance Champion — or more precisely, a senior leader that has the ability to “create a steering committee to establish policies […] around data,” experts say.

Such methods facilitate the flow of data across the firm as they build potent data transmission links between departments while creating trusted networks and demonstrating value — which triggers the company-wide involvement of stakeholders.

To a certain extent, wide-ranging participation in IoT innovation demands revised organizational policies on data management; without an evolving data model that opens access to information, the business is siloed. Yet it’s not always the incapacity of a firm’s leadership to dissolve data barriers that hinders information sharing. Sometimes, permission to access data exists predominantly in pockets.

The Lack of Data Ownership Is Getting Renewed Attention

Having partial ownership of data cripples many efforts at unified IoT strategies — at a minimum, it contributes to the quick proliferation of misinformation across the firm.

It’s not uncommon for organizations to experience a lack of data owners. Remarkably enough, data can be under the exclusive control of the service-providing department (or platform owner) — even if it doesn’t necessarily own the given data.

Still and all, many organizations have managed to assign data owners for their assets — only to restrict enterprise-wide access in order to limit the exposure to security risks. Today, there is a solution to this problem: Blockchain of Things protects data ownership and privacy of end-users. “With proof of ownership and distributed data transactions,” a study reveals, “blockchain technology provides a natural channel for trade between data producers.”

Firms are essentially adjusting to data ownership issues by understanding that it doesn’t always matter who holds title to data; as specialists suggest, a better question to ask now is: “Who can access it?”

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