The “internet of things” is a vast, unstoppable flood of information greater than anything we have ever seen, and every organization will need to ride this wave of change at some point, or else risk finding themselves beneath it. This is an exciting time for information governance (IG) professionals because of the value proposition these developments bring with them and the higher profile possible for those who manage their organization’s information assets. But in terms of infrastructure costs and regulatory and operational risk, this potential value comes with great challenges above and beyond the big data that an organization currently manages.
The internet of things can offer value to many industries. The manufacturing sector, for example, is automating production and inventory management systems to increase efficiency through machine learning that optimizes maintenance, production material delivery and finished goods logistics. And the healthcare sector is automating patient records — but there’s much more potential, with personal medical devices connected via Bluetooth and mobile phones that can monitor patients’ conditions and give them medication notifications based on algorithms.
In the consumer goods market, cars and trucks have been turned into treasure troves of marketing data by tracking driving behavior: where drivers go, the places they stop at (and for how long) and what entertainment choices they make along the way, as well as vehicle performance factors used for predictive maintenance. And all of it in real time! This is why organizational records are being referred to as information assets. This data can generate real revenue.
These information assets warrant a serious review of an organization’s IG program because of their value and the greater challenges that come with them. The most obvious challenge is the sheer volume of data. Many organizations are moving up plans to migrate to cloud data storage just to handle the amount of data they’re projected to receive from their internet of things systems.
What’s not so obvious are privacy concerns. There are direct threats involving data breaches of personal health or identifiable information that call for strict security protocols mandating at minimum encryption and up to anonymization of personally identifiable data retained over the long term. Lastly, security must be tightened around these systems, as they’re becoming a new favorite target for ransomware attacks that can shut connected devices down, endangering individuals and organizations.
The internet of things is here to stay and will only get bigger. There’s great value to be made from it, but it takes an active IG program to realize and protect it.