The Asset Explosion is Coming – But How Will You Manage It?


Murat Aksu

November 7, 2014

When we think of IoT, we often describe it as little sensors communicating with the central hub and delivering data.  Some of our partners, like IBM, are working on a further layer of IoT, which will involve peer-to-peer awareness and connectivity, dubbed the Internet of People.  So for instance, when passengers walk into an airport carrying their connected devices—phone, tablet, laptop, Google Glass — the connected person would become an IoT object, connectable with other people, devices and entities. 
There’s an added layer of complexity, though, to this future scenario. Somewhere along the line, it’s someone’s job to translate your IoT protocol. And, you, as a connected individual must choose if and how you want to communicate with the central hub and other peers, such as the passengers walking around you and the retailers and service providers within the terminal. This possibility signals a massive shift for organizations of all types, in terms of asset management: assets are no longer fixed, countable, predictable. The future points to a blurring of the lines between owned assets and temporary assets (maybe an employee’s BYOD device) which may come and go—in the case of the airport scenario—fleetingly.
With these lines blurring, we can foresee an explosion of assets, and in its wake, traditional asset management being turned on its head. How, then, will organizations account for, secure and manage assets in this new, unpredictable landscape?
This scenario calls for what we have come to call dynamic asset management.  This is asset management that can flex, scale and deal with the unpredictable. Let’s look again at the airport example I gave earlier. At a major airport, there are typically fixed assets already communicating with a central system.  Add to that, millions of passengers daily along with their connected devices.  From a security, marketing and traffic flow perspective, an airport will both want and need to keep track of these assets as they communicate with the central system as well as with other passengers, retailers and services.
Because of the transient nature of the passengers, the assets will be dynamic and not permanent.  Information would need to be stored for a period of time, in line with security concerns, while passengers pass through the airport. After a while the data can be purged or, with a cheap enough solution, permanently stored. What is clear is that in the future, manual asset management is simply not an option. A manual approach in a dynamic, transient asset environment could never move fast enough and may leave huge security vulnerabilities.
For enterprises, then, it is not enough to imagine that traditional asset management systems are future-fit. The asset explosion is coming, and organizations must get ready.

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