Whether you've been on the forefront of the trend, or you've been on the outside looking in, it's impossible to deny the rise of connected devices and the role they play in the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT). When fully maximized, connected devices can help you to take your business to the next level and enjoy optimal efficiency without wasting time, money, or energy.

The only problem is that many businesses don't think about how they're going to implement connected devices and actually end up hurting their businesses more than helping them.

The Rise of Connected Devices

The rise of connected devices has been pretty impressive to watch. For the most part, it's been slow and steady, but we're at a critical point where things are about to explode. According to predictions from Gartner, more than 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use by the end of this year - up 31 percent over last year. By 2020, it's believed that 20.4 billion devices will be in circulation.
Consumers make up the largest percent of the user base, accounting for roughly 63 percent of the total number of connected devices. One of the fastest growing segments of the consumer market is home security, which includes products like video doorbells and remote locks. But something interesting has happened over the past 24 months. As people have become more accustomed to using products like these in their homes, they've also become more comfortable with the idea of integrating them into their businesses.
By the end of this year, businesses are on pace to employ more than 3.1 billion connected devices. As Gartner's Christy Pettey explains, "Currently, IoT technologies -- and business models that utilize IoT -- are immature. Despite this immaturity, there are already sporadic examples of existing, and planned, uses across a wide range of industries. Enterprises will need to make plans and preparations now or risk being left behind by their faster-moving competitors."
Pettey hits on something that's really important for businesses - planning and preparing. Simply jumping into connected devices because you feel that your business has to keep up with the times isn't enough. You'll ultimately end up confusing employees and muddying processes more than anything. You have to create a plan for how you're going to maximize connected devices in order to improve your chances of success.

5 Tips for Maximizing Connected Devices

As you implement more and more connected devices into your organization, you'll need to formulate a concrete plan of attack. Here are some tips that should allow you to enjoy more success:

1. Prioritize Security

IoT success starts and ends with security. If you don't do an adequate job of securing your network and keeping information protected, then you're going to lose far more than you'll ever gain from an investment in connected devices. Here are  some specific steps you can take to prioritize security:

  • Carefully research the devices and only purchase products that meet the latest security standards. Saving money at the expense of making your company more vulnerable isn't worth it.
  • The importance of password integrity can't be stressed enough. One of the first things you should do when integrating a new device into your organization is change the password from the factory default to a complex string of characters with two-factor authentication.
  • Data encryption is a must in today's environment. You aren't going to stop every attack from occurring, but you can ensure that hackers and cyber criminals aren't able to use the information they steal by encrypting any data that runs through your devices.

The more you think about security, the less likely it is that you'll become a victim of an attack. Plan ahead as opposed to playing catch up.

2. Communicate With Key Stakeholders

Your plan for integrating connected devices into your organization might sound great in your board room with your team of executives, but what's it going to be like once the technology is actually in use?

It's absolutely imperative that you communicate with key stakeholders prior to implementation. In addition to getting their feedback, you also need to make sure they're supportive and encouraging to others within the company.

3. Ensure Your IT Team is Prepared

Your IT department is going to bear most of the burden when it comes to managing connected devices and ensuring everything is functioning properly. Be sure that they're prepared for everything that will be thrown their way. This usually requires some advanced training so that your IT pros have some firsthand experience before being thrown into the fire.

4. Collect and Analyze Data

Once you rollout connected devices and start using them to accomplish specific tasks, you need a way of knowing whether or not they're working. Sometimes simple observations don't do justice to what's actually going on below the surface. In order to really understand what's happening, you need to make an investment in analytics. Specifically, you need to set analytics goals and collect data that allows you to measure these goals over time.

5. Slow Down

Technology moves at a rapid pace, which tends to make people and organizations feel like they have to keep up. As you develop a plan for maximizing connected devices in your organization, resist the temptation to speed along - this generally leads to mistakes. Slow down, take your time, and be calculated with how you handle implementation.

What's Your Plan?

You obviously know your business better than anyone else. You know what's likely to work and what stands no chance of being successful. Having said that, the one thing you can't afford not to do is plan ahead. How you implement your connected device strategy will have a major impact on how receptive people are and whether or not security remains a priority.

Make sure you pay attention to the details and do everything you possibly can to give your strategy the foundation it needs to thrive.