IoT is Really The Security of Things

When people talk about the Internet of Things (or the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as "connected devices" and "smart devices"), buildings, and other items capable of collecting and exchanging data, I believe they really are talking about a lifestyle movement rather than a specific technical idea. What I mean by this is a large number of people do not really understand concepts like IoT or cloud computing, but hear the words and have a vague awareness of their meaning.

IoT is not a new idea, similar to how cloud computing was not a new idea, just a repackaging of an old concept for the non-technical masses. For the end-user, IoT is about improving our lives, turning on lights within our home, using our cars as internet hotspots, and using our watches to help us improve our health.

But, as with any advancement, there are always new issues and challenges to overcome. For IoT, that issue is security.

MSPs and IoT

Managed services has never really been popular at the micro business or residential level. Those markets simply do not need the predictability of IT performance, nor were they willing to pay for it.

With IoT, that may all change.

If a residential user did not care about their Internet connection going down, or whether their home PC was backed up to the cloud, those same users will care alot whether their cloud connected front door lock is safe from malware and being monitored 24/7.

Similarly, the proliferation of "do it yourself" home security systems is fusing the world of consumer technology with the prioritization of IT management. Could MSPs start monitoring home security systems, video cameras, and other home IoT devices? Absolutely. It's just a matter of time.

MSPs already service those same security devices in the business community today. What's the difference? Businesses are willing to pay for that IT performance outcome, residential consumers are not. Yet.

We already see massive cyber attacks on common, residential brands such as Yahoo email, Sony, and others. After a few high profile residential breaches involving IoT devices compromised by cyber attackers, the demand for proactive IoT managed services will grow.

How Should MSPs Prepare for IoT?

There isn't a lot MSPs need to change in order to be ready for this potential IoT business gold rush. Having well documented policies and procedures, maintaining good insurance, and developing solid service capabilities are all pre-requisites for being able to step into the IoT world.

MSPs will probably see the biggest challenge coming from the mindset change between business and residential users. Rational, budget focused businesses make decisions and often have different expectations from vendors (MSPs). Residential customers will want low cost, high value, highly dependable services. Will residential customers have budgets for IoT security? Probably not.

MSPs will likely have to develop purely consumer facing service lines, different from their business service offerings. We shall see.

What is clear to me is this technology world we live in is seeing technology sprawl into every aspect of our lives. Sooner or later, that technology can turn on us if we do not manage it effectively. That is one of the reasons I still believe in managed services.

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