By Peter Cullivan

If knowledge is power, how powerful do the 11 billion Internet of Things devices allow us to be? In the early 1990s, the Internet became publicly available and one of its original goals was to connect people. There are currently more than 4 billion users of the Internet and the focus has now changed from connecting people to connecting things – the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT is Internet-connected intelligent devices that generate data for automating business processes and enable new services. Lighting, security systems, watches, cars, refrigerators, and even heart monitors are all connected through the IoT. They exist in our homes and our businesses and by 2025 are expected to surpass 25 billion devices.

IoT Trends

Customer Engagement

Manufacturers who make their products “smart” are giving users the ability to interact with their household and business products. This also allows these businesses to be more proactive with their client support offerings as they are monitoring their products, collecting data, and automating action.

Data analytics of critical business processes

There is an old saying, “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” IoT devices allow processes to be measured and improved upon. Wearable devices, driving programs, and other sensors that provide monitoring and reporting deliver employers with greater analytical data into day-to-day operations, data that is driving enhanced productivity, reducing risk, improving time to market, and potentially increasing profits.

Retail becoming personal

Through IoT, it’s now possible to send personalized push notifications to shoppers who are in stores – even aisles – where products that meet their preferences are located. For instance, I love Lucky Charms cereal. I am in the store and it just so happens that the grocery store knows that their inventory of Lucky Charms is starting to age. As I turn the corner to the cereal aisle, I get a notice on my Apple Watch that Lucky Charms are buy one, get one free today. Sold! And the Lucky Charms inventory doesn’t get wasted. This logic can extend to any product.

Opportunities and capabilities are limitless when you look at where IoT is heading, but not without introducing new challenges. The exposure of these new IoT devices to malicious threats increases the risk to customer safety and information security. Private/personal data collected at levels never seen before requires new levels of cyber security to ensure that data safety.

As a consumer, we must be aware of the “who, what, where, when, and why” of personal data being collected. We must first understand what is being collected and then confirm it is protected.

As a business owner, we must treat data as an asset and have appropriate strategies in place to protect it, leverage technologies, processes, and regular testing to confirm the data is always secure. Constant evaluation of the data being stored and understanding its level of exposure is a must. A compromise of this data is an exposure to the business that could ruin even the most established brand.

Peter Cullivan is Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Rogers & Gray Insurance. He can be reached at (781) 936-4339 or pcullivan@rogersgray.com.