Many research analysts and technology providers have been waxing lyrical about the Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity for some time. And with various figures being quoted from 25 billion by 2020 to 500 billion connected devices by 2025, it’s no wonder it is receiving significant media attention.
There is no doubt that next year we will all be fed with more stories about the connected home, connected cars, intelligent buildings, smart cities and new apps for things that you may not even imagine now.
But is the widespread use IoT technology still somewhere in the distant future, or an innovation that will make a transformational impact on businesses and society in 2017?
So what will stop IoT dominating in 2017?
1. Cyber attacks and hijacking
The internet has become an everyday, every minute tool, providing us with valued information sources, keeping us in touch, and keeping us entertained, accessed by the young and old alike. Yet we all know the dangers – from viruses, service denials, hackers, ransoms and fraud, which can all reap personal and business chaos. With IoT predicted to be such a lucrative marketplace, hackers, malware and the criminals will likely also find it a happy hunting ground.
Just imagine refrigerators being turned off and food spoiled, heating and ventilation being switched off or temperatures changed, cars being driven at speed or in the wrong direction and even unsafe children’s toys. Many IT professionals cite information security as the biggest barrier to IoT adoption. However, individuals and some smaller businesses will more than likely jump at the idea of apps making life easier, maybe ignorant that connected devices can be extremely vulnerable through inadequate security. A recent example was the hijacking of DVRs and Webcams used for a successful DDOS attack which knocked dozens of popular websites including Twitter, SoundCloud and Spotify offline for hours.
Any security breaches with unexpected consequences such as hijacked cars, homes, building and cities that affect personal safety will become headline news and will certainly put the brakes on further market adoption. If this happens then it could be an annus horribilis for IoT.
2. Traffic jams
When it comes to the internet, fixed or wireless, many of us are still waiting for high speed broadband or can’t pick up mobile signal. As New Year is quickly approaching – we will all test the capacity and capability of the internet and mobile networks – will all our messages, images, videos get through or will we be waiting patiently to hit send?
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg when we come to the billions of IoT devices connecting and controlling everything you can imagine. The infrastructure will need to handle many more terabits of IoT data in a timely fashion to ensure it is appropriate for the application. We have lived with the digital divide, poor signals, and slow speeds for well over a decade now. Yet, we still have to address these as on-going issues, and more traffic and connected devices will only exacerbate it.
The uptake of IoT needs major infrastructure investment from access speeds to backbone capacity to server power and storage capacity. Without major funding of programmes such as superfast broadband envisioned in the EU gigabit society, it is likely that customer experience will be a major crunch point for IoT.
3. Unravelled knitting
In order for IoT to provide real value, lots of tools need to work together seamlessly – apps, connectivity, security, APIs, dashboards, device communications to sensors, devices and appliances, data collection, DBMS, data analytics, and everything else. Overall, it needs to provide value through increased efficiencies, increased productivity, improved business processes, cost savings and convenience.
To achieve this on a large scale needs standardisation, of protocols, frameworks, through to common platforms and interoperability of systems. Like knitted fabric that consists of rows of interlocking loops to form a pattern with elasticity and stretch in response to the wearer’s motions. If there are lots of apps controlling different devices working in silos of connectivity there will be questions on how the apps can talk to each other, and we might even find that privacy is lost in the complex workflows. Just like knitting, if they are not secured in a framework, the loops and threads of a knitted fabric will come undone and it will be discarded.
IoT innovation or damp squib?
Inadequate security and safeguards, infrastructure investment and lack of interoperability and standards are all areas we can foresee and avoid – but will act as barriers to the adoption if not progressed and overcome.
The IoT market has significant potential to change our daily lives, but let’s not forget that it is still young and needs far more development.
Here’s a handy infographic that says it all…
Got a point to add? Drop a comment below…