Who will manage IoT in the enterprise?

Surprisingly, non-IT staffers will be running Internet of Things within enterprises. It won’t be IT, a new study finds.

Most IT departments throughout enterprises are about to relinquish control of the Internet of Things, a research firm says.

IoT will not generally be managed by IT, reckons Bob O’Donnell. His company, TECHnalysis Research, recently completed an online study about which department will be running IoT within organizations.

Surprisingly, operations, facilities and manufacturing was the principal selection, the researcher found (with 42 percent). It will be the “most common department to be responsible for IoT projects,” O’Donnell says.

IT came in second, with 33 percent, and line of business and business strategy groups followed in third position at 24 percent.

Line of business can mean a few different things in corporate-eze. They include computer applications used in an enterprise, general products offered or a general corporate division. In any case, it isn’t IT.

The research firm asked 620 U.S.-based “professionals” in medium to large operations that have at least some active IoT efforts within their organizations, O’Donnell says in an essay in Techipinions. O’Donnell specifies medium-sized companies as being those with 100-999 employees, and the larger ones consist of over 1,000 workers.

Interestingly, the biggest group of survey respondents was composed of professionals who work in IT departments.

“Even IT folks are acknowledging that when it comes to IoT, it’s likely that other departments within their businesses will be tasked with managing these important new technology-based initiatives,” O’Donnell says.

Why the shift?

One reason for this strange state of affairs is possibly related to the fact that much of the IoT equipment is for sensors and gathering data, controlling machinery, sensing equipment failures and so on.

“So, it’s logical to put these organizations in charge of projects that directly impact them,” O’Donnell says.

The researcher says IT's losing control of these new kinds of technologies could change the status and role of IT.

And there’s plenty of change anyway. The major shift to cloud already alters IT’s hands-on role. The servers aren’t physically there in that case anymore, as an example.

Rightly or wrongly, these kinds of changes may create a perception at management levels that cloud computing requires less IT and then managers eliminate IT staff before discovering that isn't correct. The same could hold true for IoT.

Additionally, telcos and others who could have an ulterior motive because they sell services may also propagate concepts of IT’s unimportance. In the case of IoT, telcos at the minimum want to sell the wireless network service on which IoT runs.

I’ve written about how AT&T is suggesting enterprise must isolate IoT from regular IT. The telco says it’s for security reasons. It has said that IoT data and networks should be inaccessible from the “existing IT systems.”

That way “an attacker’s ability to launch broader cyberattacks” can be reduced, AT&T said in an October 2015 report. Notably, AT&T sells security products, as well as data networks.

“Critical business intelligence is going to start being created outside of IT,” says O’Donnell. “These changes will do more than just change the role and status of IT. They could influence the overall structure of the business.”

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.