At the end of last year, Digital Lumens conducted a poll of customers, contacts, and partners to determine the current state of affairs with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Lighting. This is the last of three blog entries covering those results and implications – the first two can be found here and here.

What was clear from the responses, and from broader industry trends, is that smart lighting is – without a doubt – thought of as a core part of the IoT. That idea naturally begs the question of IT’s role in this emerging world of networked, addressable objects. While the majority of public conversation around the IoT is focused on wearables and tracking the location of physical objects, it is the Smart Building that is poised to create tectonic shifts for IT.

The building and the physical systems within – from HVAC to lights – are getting smarter, and are moving into IT’s domain. I would submit that they are already there. But whether or not IT has factored this into their plans varies widely by company. Voluntarily or not, IT departments in enterprises of all sizes are faced with the Smart Building, and need to address key questions, ranging from strategic to organizational to infrastructure and security. Some of those questions include:

  • Who has long-term responsibility for IoT within the enterprise – infrastructure, network security, standards, ensuring maximum business value – and how do they interact with the business units?
  • How are smart building and smart systems managed?
  • Who controls the data from IoT-enabled systems?
  • Who manages the integration of that data across systems?
  • What is the system of record? Is it an ERP or BMS?
  • What standards will be supported for data and network integrations?
  • What does the roadmap to integrating the IoT and Smart Building look like?

The next has to do with how IT sees their role in the Smart Building? In deploying our system of networked, intelligent lights, we always interact with IT teams, who take many postures. Some are supportive partners, open to learning about a new system that intersects with their world. Others take a more adversarial role or ‘pull up the drawbridge,’ making it challenging for the business to maximize the value from the new networked system that has much to offer across the operation.

The reality is that IT departments need to take a proactive and strategic approach to shaping their role around the IoT adoption across their organizations, and they have an opportunity to make a strong, positive impact. Regardless of industry or company size, IT teams need to decide whether to lead and enable the IoT migration, partnering with business units and serving as strategic consultants. Or, they can bar the door, and watch while the Smart Building and IoT grow up outside of their domain, influence or control.

My preference? I am strongly in favor of having IT be a strong, engaged and capable partner in the IoT mix. Their scope should expand to accommodate these new responsibilities. Consider that my vote.