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Why can’t you play God just yet?- 7 Challenges in implementing the Internet of Things

7 Challenges in implementing the Internet of Things

There’s no doubt that the Internet of Things is a groundbreaking evolution. Talking refrigerators, intelligent thermostats, health monitors environmental sensors, clever cars, brainy bridges and what not- it’s all quite fascinating. But how are companies going to follow through with the tall promises they’ve made to us? No matter how badly we want things at the flick of a wand, in reality, most IoT projects have severe feasibility issues. In a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, it was found that 96% of the companies surveyed faced challenges with their IoT projects. After all, building revolutionary stuff comes with a generous share of obstacles.

I’ve put together a bunch of reasons why companies are having a tough time.

1. Data management

Sensors all around collect data which is stored, analyzed and then inferences are made accordingly. That’s basically how IoT works. As time goes on and the number of sensors increases, mountains of data start accumulating. A lot of it could be unwanted data. The lack of space and dearth of adequate analytical tools start eating away at the efficiency and quality of the technology. In the study mentioned earlier, another key finding was that only 8% of the companies surveyed are fully capturing and analyzing data in a timely fashion. To deal with the exponential rise in data volume, companies will have to come up with novel ways to store it and analyze it to their benefit. This analyzed data is what ultimately results in revenue generation or cost savings for the organization.

Certain systems need to be in place to react to changes in real time. According to Capgemini, 60% of all British companies in a recent study felt they were not in a position to process sensor date in real time. The real-time processing of data in particular is frequently an unsatisfactorily resolved problem, as are the integration, analysis, and visualization of data

2. Upfront Investments

Innovativeness comes at a cost. Enormous capital investments will be needed to acquire the necessary technological prowess for applications that generate a lot of data. Gathering so much data will be in vain if the company doesn’t possess the capabilities to convert that data into valuable insights and make the right decisions. However, the hard part isn’t crunching the data; it’s connecting all the systems needed to paint a complete picture. Integration is tougher than analysis.

3. Not getting along

 At the heart of IoT lies connectivity. Everything must be connected in some way. But companies use different platforms and tools and getting legacy software to work with new technology is easier said than done. Accenture believes that the main challenge lies in getting current technology up to speed to accommodate the Internet of Things. Regardless of how much smarter and inexpensive the sensors are becoming, the lack of standards, suitable protocols for data transfer, compatible middleware and need for upgradation are big roadblocks in taking IoT to the next level.

4. Sensor energy

For IoT to reach its full potential, sensors will need to be self-sustaining. Imagine changing batteries in billions of devices deployed across the planet and even into space. Obviously, this isn’t possible. What’s needed is a way for sensors to generate electricity from environmental elements (such as vibrations, light, or airflow).

5. New skill set needed

There is a lack of Big Data experts who are able to interpret sensor data. Data scientists are rare and in great demand. The future of IoT is a grand vision indeed. Using cloud computing, Big Data analysis and blazing fast hardware, we might be able to make what we want. Brilliant minds making deeply complex stuff that needs mad skills, utmost dedication and a lot of time to build. What will you do when your fridge acts up and stops reminding you to buy milk? You’re going to need some highly qualified and knowledgeable tech support, no? There might come a time when one of the fifty devices strapped to your body malfunctions and nobody has a clue as to how to fix it. We are building things which might go beyond our understanding. It’s difficult for companies to find people with the required expertise to work on such advanced projects and then manage the customer support too. Customer queries are becoming increasingly complex and customers expect quick response times.

6. Security

Devices are increasingly getting connected to the internet and to each other. This makes them vulnerable to malicious attacks, no matter how unlikely it seems. The main cause for concern is not every individual thing in the internet of things (although those are hard to secure too), it’s those cloud servers that hold a ton of data collected from the connected devices. They could contain an array of personal information as well as an organization’s confidential information. Even local hubs where data is temporarily stored are hackable.

It is paramount that companies include security features as the top priority rather than as an addendum. Security breaches could result in widespread loss of privacy and tremendous damage- in terms of money, reputation and customer loyalty.

It was revealed in the 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis report that the average consolidated total cost of a data breach is 3.8million USD. That’s a 23% increase since 2013. If implementing security mechanisms right now itself is so difficult, imagine the state of affairs when IoT reaches another level.

Organizations driving the IoT revolution have to find a way to make devices secure. After all, with great power, comes great responsibility.

7. Finding a killer application

This is another hiccup in developing IoT apps. A killer app becomes popular because you need it. A smartphone is unarguably the best example of a killer product. Think about how easily smartphones have carved a special place in our lives. Organizations are having a tough time coming up with something that will have people lining up and camping outside stores to buy it. A few years ago, one could have said that wearable devices might perhaps remain toys for the wealthy. But with all sorts of new startups coming up and the cost of hardware constantly decreasing, these devices are now quite affordable. But nothing has really gone viral yet. It’s going to be quite a challenge.

It is important to note that while barriers and challenges exist, they are not insurmountable. Given the benefits of IoT, companies will find a way to get these issues worked out. It is only a matter of time.

7 Challenges in implementing the Internet of Things

  1. Data collection and analysis is a major obstacle in realising the true potential of IoT. Storage and security have become a headache for many manufacturers

  2. The article is really thorough and highly informative

    • Thank you, Carl 🙂

  3. I am actually excited about how Google’s Brillo as it will unify different sensors and allow for homogeneous communication between different devices

    • Yes! We are moving forward rapidly!

  4. The article is really thorough and covers multiple challenges that existing companies face. Internet of Things will provide a fillip to not just the technology sector but also multiple sectors which will greatly benefit from value addition to their existing processes and products