It’s amazing how much the Internet of Things (IoT) has grown from a trending topic to actual technology over the past few years. In fact, according to Gartner, 43 percent of businesses are planning to adopt IoT technology by the end of 2016. So in honor of National IoT Day on April 9, we are taking a moment to look beyond our wearable activity trackers to consider a few obstacles the Internet of Things must overcome to reach its full potential and suggest some ways to address them.
- Security. Security may be the largest concern when it comes to IoT adoption, as we discussed in a blog post back in 2014. Whether it is a concern that the vast amount of data collected will be misused, or the fear of hacking everything from health data to connected cars, IoT security has received a lot of attention over the past year or so. So, is there a solution? It depends on who you ask. But everyone will agree that the Internet of Things poses unique challenges – it spans hardware and software; it’s immensely distributed; it embraces a diverse set of users (trusted or otherwise). Organizations must address all these aspects when considering a security architecture, and address them all in a robust way. While far from trivial, it can be done. It requires significant resources and a security team with a breadth of expertise and capabilities that is hard to assemble. Over time, this will become easier as commercially available security tools evolve to meet these unique challenges. In the meantime, sophisticated analytics solutions will provide some comfort and protection as they work to identify cyber-attacks about to occur or already in progress. We’re in the early stages of IoT security. It remains a very real concern for many and it needs significant investment throughout the ecosystem to be fully addressed.
- Data Management and Analytics. From sensors, wearables and iBeacons, to all other connected devices, massive amounts of IoT data are being produced every day. Gartner predicts that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use by the end of 2016 – it’s hard to imagine the vast amounts of IoT data these billions of devices will produce just this year. All of this data can be extremely overwhelming for organizations to store and manage. To transform this data from an operational liability to a strategic asset, organizations must find ways to drive maximum value from their IoT data and gain actionable insights. Organizations must learn to leverage modern data processing technologies, data management tools and advanced analytics capabilities to automate and accelerate data processes. Many IoT use cases will demand real-time or near real-time performance which will further strain the technology stack. Thankfully, we’ve seen a lot of progress on these fronts in recent years and much of the innovation has been driven by innovative startups.
- Complexity and Cost of Connected Devices. Smart home sensors and devices have been all the buzz recently in the consumer IoT world. But a recent survey of 3,000 consumers suggests that smart home devices are generally considered to be too expensive and complex. This means that despite the hype and push to connect everything in your home to the Internet of Things, it might not be ready for the limelight for the average homeowner, that is, until devices become less expensive to produce, easier to use, and less likely to break down over time.
The Internet of Things is an area that we watch closely at Ascent as it continues to unfold in ways we could previously only imagine. Despite its inherent challenges, we are optimistic about the industry and are excited to see what the future has in store.
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