What will the Internet of Things mean for project management?


Brad Egeland

September 9, 2015

Ok, the Internet of Things (IoT) may not mean anything to your next project, but it’s coming. IoT will eventually affect you, your next project, the technology you are delivering, and your IT organization as a whole.

What is the IoT? Taking a quick trip over to Wikipedia yields this definition and description:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the production, operator and/or other connected devices based on the infrastructure of International Telecommunication Union’s Global Standards Initiative. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.”

Since Wikipedia goes on to suggest that industry experts estimate that the IoT will consist of close to 50 billion – that’s right…BILLION – objects and devices by 2020 (less than 5 years from now) you can likely expect that you will soon be managing projects that are affected by the IoT.

So what does that mean? What do we need to be looking for? What considerations do we have?

BYOD issues. There are always the BYOD considerations. How do those affect the adoption and usage of IoT type devices? Let’s consider what those could be first. The development manager using his smart watch to sync his team calendar with his own on his wrist. Devices used in the field to communicate that are not yet provided by your employer in the early adoption phase of IoT devices? Yes. Be thinking today about your BYOD policies because this is all going to happen faster than you think.

Cybersecurity issues. Right now, I wouldn’t be too concerned with security. The role that IoT devices play – and will play in the very near future – is too small in terms of the corporate world to require much time or money to be expended on it. But I think that will all change in the next 6-12 months and only grow exponentially from there. Will your projects be affected a year from now? I believe so. Every PMO should be considering policies now or they will definitely be caught off guard when a large client requests IoT tech devices on a near-future project.

Who buys what issues. Who pays for what? Does your employer buy IoT devices for the workforce or do we stick to the standard laptops and smartphones? That will all depend on what functional and productive uses organizations find for IoT devices. It will be a stretch at first, and individual employee requests for devices they think they need the organization to supply will be the first wave. But it won’t be long till some device comes along that will become as standard employee issue as the laptop and smartphone.

What customer requests for IoT will you support on your projects? A handheld order device that delivers orders online is part of the IoT if it’s a standalone object. If it’s connected to a computer, then it’s still part of that computer and not considered part of the IoT. That will change in the next 6 months, right? Be ready. Will smart watches ever become a viable part of project engagements? Probably. More IoT considerations.

The IoT can include heart monitoring implants, animal chips, onboard car sensors, and various field operational devices used by workers in both the private and public sectors – including policemen, firemen, etc. So, could those include something like a handheld device that scans bar codes without a computer and transits data in real-time? Yes, most definitely. These things, while not prominent today, could be requested and included in tomorrow’s IT organization and project customer base.

Summary / call for input

The wave of IoT devices will soon be coming to your home, then to your workplace, and – subsequently – to the projects we manage. It’s not a problem, we just need to think proactively and be ready with policies and procedures so we aren’t caught off guard.

What’s your take? Are you seeing client requests for these types of devices on the tech projects you are managing? Any advice you can share on making sure you’re prepared and your project teams are ready for it?

This article was written by Brad Egeland from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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