IoT this, connected devices that. Are companies really delving into the Internet of Things – and if so, how are they going about it? Keep reading for some true insight into IoT adoption, which is based on actual data about real-life IoT trends and challenges for the enterprise.
The IoT has been a hot topic lately. The 2016 holiday season saw vendors like Amazon and Google aggressively promoting a new generation of “smart” devices for the home. The Dyn network outage in October highlighted the new types of security risks that connected devices are posing. These trends helped bring the IoT onto the radar screens of the masses for the first time.
In light of developments like these, you may be tempted to think of the IoT as a revolutionary new type of technology that is rapidly changing the way we compute.
The Real State of the IoT
But that’s not quite right. Yes, connected devices are an increasingly important part of the tech market. To gain true perspective on the IoT’s past, present, and future, however, it’s worth keeping the following facts in mind:
- The IoT is not at all a new idea. The term itself was coined more than a decade ago. Smart devices for the home, like Internet-enabled refrigerators, have been around since the late 1990s.
- The IoT remains a very broad and vaguely defined concept. It includes smart consumer devices like thermostats and Philips Hue light bulbs. But it also involves remotely controlled traffic lights, sensors that retailers use to monitor inventory and even – believe it or not – bulldozers.
- The extent to which IoT devices integrate with traditional computing infrastructure, and the ways they connect to it, vary widely. Most smart devices in the home connect to commodity servers using traditional networks and IP addresses – a familiar paradigm. But more obscure protocols, like long range wireless, are also an important part of the IoT, especially in settings where implementing traditional network infrastructure is not feasible.
What facts like these show is that – despite the recent headlines made by certain segments of the IoT market – it’s better to think of the IoT as a relatively traditional computing paradigm that is slowly but steadily evolving. It’s also one that encompasses much more than the smart consumer devices that first come to mind when most people think of the IoT.
IoT Adoption Trends
That the IoT is now as new as many people think does not mean that companies aren’t eager to invest in it. A Gartner study in early 2016 found that 29 percent were already using IoT technology, and another 14 percent planned to invest in it by the end of the year. The overall value of the global IoT market will surpass fourteen trillion dollars by 2022, according to Cisco.
IoT adoption rates and valuations are even higher within certain industries. A summer 2016 survey of retailers and logistics providers reported that 64 percent were already using IoT technology, for instance. Within manufacturing, IoT market size is expected to triple between 2015 and 2020.
IoT Challenges, and How to Overcome Them
It’s clear, then, that there is a lot of interest within the enterprise in investing in the IoT. But the fact that the IoT remains poorly understood shows that companies run the risk of making mistakes because they are not prepared to address all of the challenges posed by moving to the IoT. In order to invest in IoT technology successfully, companies should be prepared for the following:
- Integrating data from diverse sources. 69 percent of CIOs report data integration as the biggest challenge they face in implementing industrial IoT technology. This is no surprise, given the fact that IoT devices and networks vary so widely. To solve this data integration challenge, organizations need tools that can aggregate information from a variety of sources.
- Making sense of IoT data. The more devices and networks you have on the IoT, the harder it becomes to assure that the data they produce is actionable. To meet this challenge, enterprises have to deploy data analytics solutions that can interpret information in diverse forms.
- Integrating IoT devices with legacy infrastructure. As noted above, not all IoT devices can simply connect to commodity servers using the standard Internet protocol. Enterprises that want to make the most of IoT connectivity need solutions that can facilitate connectivity and data exchange between new types of devices on the IoT and the old infrastructure that companies already have in place, like mainframes. Enterprises should not expect to rebuild their infrastructures from scratch just to make them IoT-friendly.
- Securing IoT data. The expansion of the IoT is breeding a whole new generation of security risks. By compromising IoT devices, attackers can wreak real havoc on critical infrastructure. This makes securing IoT data – both on IoT devices themselves and on the servers that help to store and analyze that data – absolutely essential.
Fortunately, tools to help enterprises overcome the challenges to IoT adoption are already here. These include Syncsort’s collection of solutions for easing data storage and data analytics on infrastructure composed of diverse devices and networks.