August 15, 2017

How you can help DOD get IoT right

By Stephanie Meloni
immixGroup, an Arrow company


The federal internet of things (IoT) market is expected to grow 20 percent from $2.5 billion in 2016 to $3 billion by 2018.

Federal IoT adoption hasn’t accelerated as quickly as the commercial and state and local government sectors and IoT still remains a small portion of the overall federal budget. But it’s an emerging technology in the federal space and agencies are beginning to adapt solutions that have been effective for commercial and state and local government entities.

One area where IoT will grow rapidly in government is in defense. But for the Department of Defense (DOD), it’s become increasingly important to get IoT right, particularly when it comes to securing connected devices. But there hasn’t been a lot of action behind those words.

Many civilian agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce have already released strategic documents and plans for IoT, but the DOD has yet to release an official strategy.

Even so, government customers across DOD are giving thought as to how to handle IoT, and in some ways, are already implementing projects. So how can technology companies get involved as this trend continues to pick up steam?

Here are two ways to help enable early IoT success:

  1. Enhanced data analytics

Right now, such a small percentage of DOD’s data is being used for actual analytics—it’s sometimes as low as one percent. The Air Force alone produces 2.5 quintillion bits of data each day—that’s an overwhelming amount of information to manage and be able to draw any meaningful conclusions from.

Emphasis on the importance of IoT continues to create opportunities for companies that specialize in data administration, analytics and visualization. The actual data management, clean up and tagging piece is what government customers will need help with initially. That will enable effective analytics down the line, allowing DOD to use an increased amount of data coming from sensors and other connected devices to enhance the warfighting mission, perform predictive maintenance and achieve cyber situational awareness.

  1. Cyber protections

Legacy systems continue to be a problem across DOD. The majority of the department’s IT dollars go toward sustainment of these systems, and now with IoT, DOD needs a way to build cyber visibility, intelligence and protections into these systems.

On the other end of the spectrum, many of the devices and sensors connected to the internet are not built to last and have no real way to be patched once a vulnerability is discovered. This has created an immense challenge for DOD, as it has limited visibility into all parts of the kill chain—it’s more than just an endpoint security issue.

DOD will need help performing audits to know what’s connected to the internet as a start, as well as configuration management solutions and systems engineering to help it build in security without creating additional attack vectors.

You can help DOD implement early successful IoT projects by staying close to customers whose missions have a play within IoT. Your customers may already be touching this technology in many ways and if you can help them define what the business or objective really is, you can help shape these opportunities and ensure the proper cyber requirements are being written into the RFP.

As you can see, there are many considerations government customers need to account for while getting IoT off the ground and they’ll appreciate an open dialogue with industry, particularly when it comes to written cyber requirements.

This article originally appeared on immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog.

For more guidance on selling IT to the federal government, learn about what immixGroup’s Market Intelligence team can offer.