Whether it’s the products we manufacture, the buildings we work in, or the information we gather, it's the assets within a company, if properly managed by people, that can help the company grow and develop. If not protected, these assets can be affected by vulnerabilities, waste, loss, and inefficiencies – safeguarding them during every stage of the production cycle is integral. But businesses can’t protect and control what they can’t see.
Leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technology, along with a comprehensive security strategy and proper security technologies, can provide a solution, giving businesses across all industries more visibility than ever before. Using smart technologies, such as sensors, GPS, and tags – in conjunction with technologies like 5G – companies can keep track of where their assets have been, where they’re going, and who’s been in contact with them.
And, by combining IoT technology with artificial intelligence (AI), we are rapidly moving from a real-time notification-based approach to a forward-looking solutions-based one. The wealth of data collected by IoT devices can be aggregated and parsed to create machine learnings that identify exceptions and predict new outcomes, whether these are operational, safety, security, or health-oriented.
So how can business leaders utilize these technologies to safeguard their assets and optimize operations, and what do they need to consider?
Leveraging IoT today
IoT adoption is accelerating rapidly. COVID-19 has increased the demand for remote monitoring, and the rise of 5G and cloud computing, as well as smaller and cheaper sensors, is increasing the range of applications. In fact, a recent study from Juniper Research predicted that the current number of IoT connections will more than double by 2024, reaching 83 billion. Companies that delay the adoption of this disruptive technology risk falling behind in a post-pandemic world.
Luckily, implementing this technology does not have to mean replacing existing equipment. In many cases, companies can retrofit existing security infrastructure, such as video monitoring and geolocation tracking, with IoT sensors. As a result, spending on security becomes much more than a mandatory cost – it becomes an investment which enables businesses to unlock the value of their asset-based data. Companies that make this investment can see benefits across all aspects of the business, including improvements in efficiency, cost, quality, and customer service.
Powering smart factories and supply chains
The move toward smart manufacturing has accelerated in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The "fourth industrial revolution" will rely on IoT technology to monitor production, automation, planning, quality, and compliance. By connecting internet-enabled sensors to existing monitoring and surveillance systems, operators can collect real-time data on the status of their assets, allowing them to diagnose malfunctioning equipment, anticipate maintenance requirements, and identify machines that are not working to their full capacity. This insight will allow companies to enhance risk management, minimize downtime, and increase operating efficiency.
Once goods leave the factory, an enormous amount of waste can occur through the logistics process. In the past, monitoring goods in motion has presented a major challenge, but with IoT-enabled asset tracking solutions, logistics teams can keep tabs on shipments at every point along the supply chain. With automated data collection comes a whole host of benefits for both security and efficiency. AI technology can identify patterns and detect anomalies in the data, flagging any changes in storage conditions – such as temperature, pressure, humidity, air quality, and vibration – that could damage goods. In the absence of this data, companies risk delays, lost sales, customer dissatisfaction, and liability.
Keeping IoT security front of mind
With all this information comes the importance of data protection. As cyber threats become more of a risk, businesses are increasingly expected to deliver on their commitment to data privacy – and oversights can be extremely costly. A data breach can result in workers and customers backing away from adoption and companies facing litigation issues, stunting the growth of the positive aspects of this technology.
When leveraging IoT with security technologies, it is vital that business leaders are conscious of the two aspects of data protection: data privacy and data security. You can have the highest regard for data privacy – putting policies in place to govern how data is collected, shared, and used – but your data security needs to be up to scratch to enforce these policies and protect against unauthorized access.
The safeguarding of company assets, whether they be data or product, should be at the top of any organization’s agenda. When these assets are protected, people are empowered to grow businesses, build communities, and develop new and more efficient systems of production. Advances in technology are offering business leaders opportunities to leverage their existing security systems to not only better protect their assets but optimize their operations. With IoT and AI, security is no longer only a cost center, but a driver of competitive advantage.
This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security Magazine. Subscribe here.