In an ever-growing number of industries, the Chief Information Officer is becoming an indispensable part of the leadership team. As your organization’s CIO, it’s your responsibility to keep track of the constant technological changes confronting you and position your team to take full advantage of emergent opportunities. When it comes to the Internet of Things, application development should be a vital part of your approach.

The Scope Of Possibilities

The Internet of Things has made a rapid transition from trade journal buzzword to core function for many companies. The Internet of Things is no longer about “pie in the sky” consumer goods like smart refrigerators; today countless companies are finding real applications for this technology that can drive sales, boost profits, and reduce costs.

One of the most fertile fields for exploring Internet of Things opportunities is in the field of business-to-business and enterprise commerce. If your company provides smart products that other companies rely on, you need to be prepared to make full use of the data those products collect. There are two key challenges standing between your organization and the full realization of its IoT potential: Coping with the scale of the data collected and building the tools to put that data to work.

Problems Of Scale

Your company doesn’t have to deploy many smart devices before you find yourself facing a tidal wave of incoming data. IBM recently estimated that a single smart car could generate as much as 25 GB of data per hour when in use. Even though your own devices are likely to be less “noisy,” the amount of data you need to sift through scales exponentially as more devices are deployed.

App development is just part of making that data productive. You also need the IT infrastructure in place to receive, store, and manipulate your device data. The traffic between your organization and its devices may be two-way or one-way, and your infrastructure should be ready to handle the increased traffic that smart devices impose upon it. Successful implementation of smart devices will definitely put you into a “big data” situation, and you need to be ready to take full advantage of that.

User Vs. Supplier Opportunities

The sheer variety of different ways you might take advantage of smart devices and their data makes it difficult to talk generally about the sort of applications you’ll need. Just bear in mind that you likely have opportunities to benefit both your own organization and your end users. You may want to invest in separate teams to cover each of these bases.

Strong applications for the user side of your smart device network will significantly improve your users’ experience and help you meet your customers’ needs. To this end, your user-side apps need to focus on ease of use and reliability. On the supplier side, you need to build robust tools that will allow you to streamline your other services. Look for every possible way to streamline your organization’s workflow through the data your devices collect. Making device data available to your support department can result in significant maintenance savings, for example.

Why Application Development Can’t Be Left Behind

You’ve already gotten a glimpse of the advantages that you can capture by paying attention to the software side of smart devices. What about the potential pitfalls you face if you neglect your applications? Justifying the resources you invest in apps requires you to present a compelling picture of the dangers you’re avoiding.

While falling prices are a big driver behind the growth of the internet of things, building smart functionality into your products still represents a significant investment. Those costs will be wasted if your organization doesn’t have the software “muscle” to take advantage of the opportunities you’re building into your hardware. That means building and maintaining a potent development team both to meet your current needs and to identify emerging ones.

Smart devices are going to play a transformative role in a lot of different industries over the next few years. Is your organization ready to take full advantage of the possibilities they unlock? As the CIO, you have a responsibility to take the long view and line up the resources that will be crucial in getting the most out of your devices.