The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
The Internet of Things extends internet connectivity beyond traditional devices like desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets to a diverse range of devices and everyday things that utilise embedded technology to communicate and interact with the external environment, all via the Internet.
No doubt about it – the IoT is moving full steam ahead. Gartner predicts that 25 billion “things” will be connected to the IoT by 2020. Both Cisco and McKinsey Global Institute predict that the IoT will generate more than $10 trillion in the coming decade – with Cisco predicting the market could be worth $14.4 trillion by 2025.
While the smartphone market was the quickest business to hit the trillion-dollar-mark in history, the IoT space is by definition much larger in scope and is growing at an almost unthinkable clip – a report predicts that the IoT market will have a 43% CAGR through 2019.
Yet, there are some potential hurdles for IoT. Lets take a look at these.
This is, by far, the most common and obvious hurdle. Even today, the internet is not available in many areas of the world. This fact is not just relevant to developing countries, but also to several areas in Northern Europe and America where there is no internet coverage. The whole concept of IoT lies on constant and reliable connectivity. Thus, no reliable source of connectivity causes problems in implementing IoT.
DATA PRIVACY AND SECURITY
Since IoT devices can potentially harvest enormous amounts of data, security breaches can be especially dangerous. Companies will need to show they can protect customer information if consumers are to trust wearing shoes that keep track of where they go and how many steps they take.
IoT focuses on connecting more and more devices together. This causes more entry points for malware. Devices that are less expensive have greater risks of getting tampered with. The good news is that there are already a number of trusted vendors who can help mitigate the risk of security problems along with proven technologies like end-to-end encryption and token-based authentication that are suited for IoT applications. Hence, there’s potential to overcome this hurdle.
As many different systems are getting connected through IoT, it has been creating a lot of interoperability challenges. It is becoming difficult to create real cross-domain services that will allow seamless movement of devices and data. “There are a lot of silos of connectivity,” says Jason Shepherd, Director of IoT Strategy and Partnerships, Dell. While progress is being made at standard bodies, companies in the industrial space don’t want to necessarily replace all of their equipment to accommodate the IoT.
HIGH COST OF IMPLEMENTATION
Implementing the IoT can be expensive. Many companies have relied on the approach of designing IoT devices with a centralised cloud-based business model. This method can lead to years or even decades of expense without revenue.
“Sometimes with the cloud, you are paying to ship data to yourself that you never use,” says Jason Shepherd, Director of IoT Strategy and Partnerships, Dell. “We have seen some people that were talking all about the cloud a year ago realise how expensive it is.”
As is the case with any new technology, many people interested in the technology tend to sit on the sidelines to observe how it is used in the real world due to insufficient knowledge about the latest technology. One key reason for that is many of the technologies are simply so new that implementing them can be challenging and time-consuming.
A growing number of companies are at work building out IoT infrastructure, including cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft, mobile network providers like AT&T and Verizon, and the microprocessor company ARM, which has developed the ARM mbed end-to-end IoT solution. The field, however, is fragmented, and some companies are starting to advertise their ecosystem of
LACK OF STANDARDS
The current state of interoperability standards is clearly a problem. And while part of the problem is that there are no universally agreed-upon standards, another hurdle is that there are so many IoT standards being developed that it will be difficult for a single standard to gain widespread acceptance. Examples of IoT-relevant standards include the Linux-backed AllJoyn, Intel’s Open Interconnect Consortium, IEEE P2413, and the ITU-T SG20 standard for smart cities.
UL recently debuted UL 2900 certification for IoT security.
These hurdles represent some significant challenges businesses will have to contend with over the next few years. But many view it as a challenge worth facing. The number of developers specifically devoted to the Internet of Things is expected to increase to 4.5 million by 2020. Hence, with more attention being paid to the IoT, solutions will likely come, and with them new innovations and creative applications. Consumers can expect a much more connected life as a greater understanding of the IoT is put into practice.