What is IoT Device Management?
Introduction – The presence of ‘IoT’, otherwise referred to as the ‘Internet of Things’, in contemporary discussions regarding networked capabilities, has grown considerably in recent years. In essence, IoT relates to the intricate connectivity which pervades modern-day networked spaces, capturing the complex nature of systems, platforms, and tools that are used to facilitate a myriad list of products and services. In order to optimize the performance of devices which enable these processes to take place, operational stakeholders must implement an appropriate IoT device management programme.
- Part 1 : What is IoT Device Management
- Part 2 : Basics of IoT Device Management
- Part 3 : Challenges & Benefits of IoT Device Management
- Part 4 : Key ‘must-have’ Features for IoT Device Management Software
- Part 5 : What is AirDroid Business for IoT Device Management
- Part 6 : Examples of IoT Device Management
1What is IoT device management?
The purpose of IoT device management is to provision, configure, control and support devices which carry IoT capabilities, and is delivered through the use of dedicated software which is typically applied to corporate device networks. IoT devices operate differently from standard technological assets, as they harness the ability to remotely connect and transmit data to any network commissioned for a specific use.
Given the interconnectivity of the digital age, and the pressing need for devices which can offer automated solutions in networked environments, maintaining suitable IoT device functionality has become a strategic aim for businesses across a range of industries and sectors. Suitable IoT device management software, tailored to the needs and requirements of its operational space, supports companies towards achieving this aim.
2Basics of IoT device management
The core objective of IoT device management efforts is to secure and protect IoT devices from external threats, who may be seeking to infiltrate data or undermine their performance capability, whilst simultaneously ensuring that these assets are in the best possible condition to support the operational requirements of the business.
By integrating an IoT device management agent into their respective systems of control, corporate entities can:
- Gain full transparency of all networked IoT device activity, accessing information regarding website visitation, downloaded applications, and physical movement between locations.
- Enhance the efficiency of internal procedures and processes, helping to drive productivity rates and improve client and customer satisfaction levels.
- Secure a better awareness of incumbent threats to security, and design appropriate defence mechanisms and policies to mitigate against these risks.
- Create more flexibility in their ways of working, helping to encourage a culture of innovation and creativity in operating practices, which subsequently establishes a platform towards improving quality of product and reducing costs.
- Glean detailed information from live reporting analytics, ensuring that any challenges to device performance are swiftly identified, probed, and addressed.
- Bulk device onboarding: When enterprises add new devices onto a network, they must be assured that these assets are provisioned under the right settings from day one. IoT device management software is utilized to ensure correct corporate profiles and security policies are instantly live upon device activation, serving to create a seamless onboarding experience.
- Remote troubleshooting: Having the tools to deliver remote fixes to IoT device issues is of central importance to businesses looking to develop their customer, colleague or client reach, as this often facilitates swift and successful resolution to complex problems which would otherwise need to be addressed using protracted manual methods. Therefore, any desirable IoT device management programme must be equipped to accommodate remote unattended support.
- Reports and analytics: As referenced previously, acquiring full transparency on network activity allows businesses to reflect on whether systems and security profiles are appropriately supporting devices. An IoT device management dashboard facilitates this real-time view of events, but also allows IT teams to translate this information into a suite of convenient reporting documents, exposing repetitive themes and consistent issues within the corporate network.
- Robust integration: Given the myriad operating systems and network servers existent in the IoT space, it’s vital that IoT device management software is compatible with a range of technical set-ups. Whether in relation to on-house applications, bespoke coding, or the nature of downstream data servers, the software must possess the capability to consolidate workflows, and manage the network as one integrated entity.
- Stringent security: The greatest threats to corporate security materialise in the digital space, with many businesses failing to administer effective defence strategies to fend off unsavoury actors. This risk is accentuated in the ‘Internet of Things’, as, due to the intensely inter-connected nature of IoT devices and systems, a successful attack could result in losing complete control of a network. Therefore, IoT device management agents help companies to construct tailor-made security profiles relevant to their trade, and layer authentication controls onto device log-in to reduce the possibility of unwanted infiltration. Furthermore, ‘live’ dashboard alerts, which instantly notify IT teams of irregular activity, affords businesses the opportunity to quickly tackle security threats.
We now look at the functional processes behind these outputs, focusing on each part of the IoT device management journey:
There is a tangible difference in the way IoT devices are provisioned onto networks versus ‘standard’ technical devices, with the latter using a convenient, independent dashboard when being initiated into a corporate population. Conversely, IoT-ready devices are onboarded using through external confirmation, using procedures such as credentials verification, two-factor authentication, device ID assignment to assimilate onto a network.
Authentication and configuration:
The authentication process ensures that an IoT device becomes a recognized asset within the wider network, and establishes validation controls to ensure the device user is authorised to access company systems. Clearly, this reduces the possibility of undesirable actors infiltrating networks, as they are not equipped with valid credentials for logging-in purposes. Device configuration is deployed to ensure the functionality of the IoT device is consistent with the needs and requirements of its environment.
A range of diagnostics data is exploited to track IoT device performance, and cast light on issues causing operational inefficiencies. Indeed, monitoring reports can be manipulated to isolate anomalies, patterns, and trends, which subsequently prompt remedial action to take place.
Remote maintenance, management, and updates:
Given that many IoT devices have a long-term operational presence, businesses should endeavour to routinely perform maintenance checks, deliver firmware upgrades, and equip devices with updated security profiles. Ultimately, these efforts are leveraged in order to ensure IoT devices remain fit for purpose, and continue to add appropriate operational value.
Remote control and troubleshooting:
IoT device management software support businesses to remotely address technical faults, instigate device updates and apply new security profiles. As a consequence of this remote capability, IT admins can deliver essential actions from any location, at any time, and therefore facilitate swift resolutions to otherwise potentially time-consuming issues.
It’s often easy for businesses to either ignore or forget about dormant IoT devices which are still active on their corporate network. However, these assets can cause a number of serious headaches if not dealt with accordingly. IoT devices which have not received appropriate security patches are vulnerable to external infiltration, whilst sub-par equipment, configured with obsolete or historic profiles, can substantially hamper operational effectiveness. A well-manufactured end-of-life policy will ensure these types of devices are appropriately de-commissioned and removed from the network.
3Challenges presented by the ‘Internet of Things’ & Benefits of IoT Device Management
Currently, there are significant obstacles within the realm of the ‘Internet of Things’. In order to achieve a fully-integrated level of compatibility and connectivity, and to establish a more secure environment for IoT devices usage, these difficulties will clearly need to be successfully navigated. Nevertheless, the advantages of deploying and governing devices via a context-specific IoT management tool are considerable, and undoubtedly outweigh any negatives associated with this practice.
Challenges experienced by those operating within the IoT space:
Although IoT penetration has been significant in recent times, there are still vast amounts of networks, servers, and devices that remain unconnected, incompatible and therefore consequently less productive. An agreed, universal framework for IoT devices and accompanying management software is yet to materialise, and therefore ‘pure’ interoperability, across all networked channels, is still a long way off.
Lack of government support
There are currently no local or international regulatory bodies accountable for the safeguarding of IoT devices, and no legislation that serves to promote and protect this space. The absence of any governmental intervention or control leaves legitimate ‘IoT’ stakeholders and their devices vulnerable to illicit actors, and threatens the very security of the sector.
In healthcare contexts, failing to appropriately manage IoT devices, or indeed random system errors, could lead to dire consequences. As the vast majority of these types of devices are designed to function as an ‘unattended’ support mechanism, often, no human is present to take evasive action in the event of a major fault. Therefore, if a patient happens to be directly wearing or using this device on an occasion it malfunctions, the result could be fatal.
Security and personal privacy
Despite the widespread use of IoT-mobilized networks, in-depth studies into security threats facing certain industries have been rather limited in scope. In order to grow confidence and assurance, further work must be done to identify and address pressing security concerns, and proactively establish ways to mitigate these risks moving forward.
Keeping pace with technology
The relentless development of new technologies, systems, and operational models creates significant challenges for software and device designers, who must ensure their products stay relevant in a constantly-evolving landscape. Advanced processes require enhanced device capabilities, and place greater strain on elements such as memory, storage, power, and battery life.
Benefits for those embracing IoT device management software:
Perhaps the most obvious advantage to integrating an IoT device management agent is the remote capability it provides. Whether it’s pushing updates to device groups, detecting and addressing system errors, or installing new security profiles, all network actions can be performed remotely. Ultimately, this serves to deliver a stronger service proposition to users, strengthen resistance to cyber-attacks, and provide the tools to establish a leaner operating model.
Security –identify and tackle security breaches
Device and business-specific security profiles can be constructed via a IoT device management dashboard, which enables companies to calibrate policies which are tailored to local conditions. Furthermore, easily-accessible, round-the-clock data gives IT admins a perfect platform for monitoring performance and vulnerabilities, allowing them to make well-informed decisions on the nature of any immediate future action.
It’s integral for businesses to have the capacity to grow their operational infrastructure as they seek new commercial opportunities in the field. The nature of IoT device management, with its centralized command hub and remote capabilities, allows company’s to easily ‘scale-up’ their service proposition, by providing a platform for new systems and processes to be integrated into existing IoT networks.
IoT device management software is self-evolving, constantly adapting to its environmental conditions; therefore, its support mechanisms stay relevant as time wears on. This is a key advantage for high-performing businesses, who relentlessly strive to improve outputs, regardless of external changeability.
4Key ‘must-have’ features for IoT device management software
In order to add value to corporate networks, an IoT device management agent must come equipped with the capability to support:
5What is AirDroid Business for IoT Device Management?
AirDroid Business presides over a comprehensive suite of remote device management tools, allowing companies to fulfil their potential by optimizing the functionality and performance of their respective corporate networks. This is no different within the IoT space, where AirDroid’s IoT device management agent provides an unrivalled set of services, helping businesses to improve their operational efficiency, expand their customer reach, and deliver effective, remote solutions to address device issues.
We review several features of AirDroid’s market-leading product below:
Whether a business is looking to negotiate a bulk file transfer, distribute a security policy across a device population, or tether a new employee account to a single device, AirDroid’s remote access capability allows IT administrators to govern corporate networks from any location, at any time.
2Monitoring and alerts
Real-time reporting provides businesses with instant information relating to device activity, potential security breaches, and general network analytics. Using this data, IT teams can take suitable action to ensure technical operations are protected and kept productive.
If a specific group of devices, perhaps linked to a particular department or business workstream, need to be prevented from accessing certain applications or sensitive company data, AirDroid’s kiosk mode can be utilized to apply restrictions on user activity.
To enable full visibility on device location, companies can exploit AirDroid’s geofencing feature, which presents real-time information on device movements, and reports historical travel data (perfect for tracking delivery routes in the transportation sector). Furthermore, IT admins can construct a virtual perimeter around any geographical space, and subsequently receive notifications when devices enter and leave this area.
As alluded to previously, the ability to configure bespoke security policies, relevant to a business’ operational environment, should not be under-estimated. AirDroid’s IoT device management solution gives businesses license to restrict certain activities on corporate devices, ensuring colleagues don’t accidentally expose companies to unnecessary risk, such as data breaches or reduced device functionality.
6Examples of IoT device management being deployed in the field
The implementation of IoT device management solutions can be seen right across both public and private sector settings. Although the ‘Internet of Things’ touches every part of society, we review six industries where the utilisation of IoT devices, and therefore the role of IoT device management, is most prevalent.
Medical professionals, and indeed their patients, are reliant on IoT devices for a multitude of services. Whether it’s a GP accessing consolidated patient records, using a platform which pulls historical information from varying systems, or a patient logging-in into their personal medical account to access details of upcoming appointments and treatment progress, IoT device management is required to govern the devices and processes that facilitate this type of activity.
Transportation & Logistics
Given the dependency on IoT devices in the transportation industry, an effective IoT device management agent is an integral part of a logistics company’s operational toolkit. Tracking route progress through vehicle-mounted ELD’s, building inventory data to optimize load capacities, and monitoring the condition of delivered goods, are all actions dependent on IoT devices, and therefore by extension reliant on IoT device management software.
OEM & Manufacturing
Establishing a process for IoT device management enables OEM & Manufacturing stakeholders to track market usage of their developed products & services. Furthermore, IoT devise feature heavily within their internal operations, serving to enhance manufacturing productivity and support quality control procedures. A suitable IoT device management programme alerts factory managers to system inefficiencies and technical failures, facilitating better control over outputs.
Retail & Hospitality
As retail and hospitality outlets require a myriad of POS, inventory, and external supplier systems to effectively talk to one another, and deploy digital displays and information kiosks to advertise products, property venues, and internal store maps, the need for reliable, high-performing IoT devices is an urgent one – enter IoT device management.
The constantly changing environment of agricultural production, impacted by seasonality, weather patterns, and supplier demand, compels farmers to embrace IoT devices, which provide the flexibility and adaptability required to manage these changing circumstances. IoT device management therefore plays a vital role in the continued prosperity of the agricultural sector.
The rising popularity of green alternatives, catalysed by a growing sense of environmental responsibility amongst citizens living in all regions across the world, has allowed for exponential growth across a number of ‘green’ industries. As many of the products manufactured by environmentally-conscious interests take advantage of the latest technologies in order to optimize functionality, its unsurprising that sophisticated, well-connected IoT devices are required to support their efforts. Solar panels, adjustable to the location of the sun’s rays, and EV charging stations, mobilized to track consumer usage and flag faults with charging capability, are just two examples of systems where an effective IoT management strategy is required.
As the planet becomes increasingly inter-connected, the role, influence, and importance of IoT devices will undoubtedly become more acute, as businesses attempt to keep pace with environmental change. Indeed, presiding over a network of IoT devices can allow corporate entities to manufacture more consistent ways of working, take advantage of the latest technological developments, and enhance functionality across a range of different disciplines.
As IoT becomes an increasingly established facet of the commerical space, so will the concept of IoT device management. True, if businesses are to fully experience the substantial benefits of IoT devices, and just as importantly not leave themselves vulnerable when embracing these tools, an effective IoT device management agent must be integrated into their respective networks.
Ultimately, IoT device management supports companies to deliver swift, effective, remote solutions to complex IT issues in turn boosting colleague and customer satisfaction levels, prepare and execute tailored security profiles specific to their needs and requirements to protect themselves against cyber threats, drive productivity rates by facilitating more efficient ways of working, and reduce costs as a result of establishing a leaner operational structure.
Therefore, IoT device management is, and will continue to be, an incredibly important component of corporate IT strategy.