Small IoT Devices Have a Big Impact on Distribution Center Information Technology
The IoT, Internet of Things, is everywhere in distribution. From connected pallets in the distribution center to connected delivery vehicles, there’s never been more data generated about the location and condition of goods. All that data places additional demands on data centers, to store it and use it meaningfully.
Data that isn’t being looked at is simply dead weight. Large volumes of data need to be stored; because historical data has value, it needs to be stored long-term, maybe indefinitely. Applications need to be developed to find the knowledge hidden in that data. All of this is often most effective in the cloud, where storage is affordable and available on demand, and where frameworks and tools simplify development of advanced analytics applications.
Despite today’s push to collect and store everything, it’s important to understand that not all data is valuable or equally important. Sensitive data shouldn’t be collected unless there is a plan to protect it and even more, a plan to use it, because if you won’t be using it, you don’t need to expose yourself to the risk of a data breach.
Wherever there’s data, there’s concern about security. Wherever there’s a network connection, there’s concern about security. The internet of things multiplies both those security aspects exponentially. These small devices are difficult to track, often have low levels of computing capability that make strong encryption impossible, don’t always receive vital updates, and integrate with backend systems that have their own security vulnerabilities. As a result, rather than focusing on protecting the device, it’s more effective to focus on overall network security and implement a strong, effective defense-in-depth strategy.
Getting this data where it needs to be requires high levels of connectivity. The bandwidth used by IoT devices is highly variable, with some sending very low data volumes and others frankly flooding the network. In addition to sheer bandwidth, low latency is necessary to support real-time requirements; however, many IoT devices don’t operate in real-time and can manage with less costly networking configurations. Fixed networks likely will not be able to cope with data volumes; software defined networking that can flexibly respond to changes provides a greater level of support.
Developing an effective strategy for integrating IoT devices into your distribution process requires taking an overall look at your infrastructure. Prescient Solutions combines technical insight with experience in the distribution industry, allowing Chicago and Schaumburg-area firms to leverage the IoT in ways that add value to their business. Contact us to learn more about getting your information technology ready for the internet of things.