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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

8 Myths about the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is here to stay. Like any new concept, IoT brings with itself an array of misconceptions and myths. These myths will decide our viewpoint and our stand with respect to all things connected. We’ve put together a list of common misconceptions and tried to debunk them the best way we can.

1. IoT is just another piece of hardware
If IoT were a piece of hardware, new products would be shoved down our throats every 6 months. Thankfully, it’s not. IoT is a complete infrastructure comprising the software, network, physical sensors and the cloud.
Generally, a connected device observes our actions using sensors, transforms it into data, and transmits it over the network to the cloud platform where the data is analyzed. The decision made on the basis of this analyzed data triggers an action from the device in the real world.

2. The Internet of Things is a thing of the future
It was LG in 2000 to first come up with plans for a refrigerator connected to the internet aka implementing the internet of things in real life. So, the first time IoT was implemented,

  •  Microsoft released Windows 2000
  •  The entire world was divided on the Bush v/s Gore vote
  • Book stores were packed with the release of the 4th Harry Potter book.
  •  Napster came under the scanner for the first time.
    So, it’s been around for a while. Internet of Things has always been a vision to increase M2M interaction, but it needed investment in terms of men, money and materials to develop. Now, that it has started getting attention, we’ll see strides in this field. So, IoT is a thing of the present than the future.

3. My life will become Big Brother with the gag reel!
Privacy (Yes, I finally have your attention) has been an issue of tremendous economic, technical and moral importance. IoT skeptics are painting the town red talking about the privacy issues of connected devices with messages like: “Stop Now. You’ll repent later”. Kind of reminds you of those believers who ran amok crying “2012: Repent while there’s still time”.
For market movers hoping to make an impact with their design of IoT, privacy is a major concern. Current privacy infrastructure standards like VPN, DNS extensions can be used over the cloud. There are efforts to conform upon a standard to keep user data private. Today, organizations trust vendors with their enterprise data over the cloud. Organizations are aware of people’s concerns and are making a conscious effort to address them in the best way possible. So, if privacy is what’s holding you back, welcome to Team IoT.

4. You had me at security!
You imagine a future where every tiny detail about you, your activities is being recorded, analyzed and acted upon by several sensors. In such a scenario, security is of utmost importance.
Companies who plan to enter the market of connected devices will make security of user data a priority. With Google announcing Brillo, Apple & Microsoft working on custom operating systems for their wearables and their protection, security should be the least of your worries.

5. Industrial IoT is the same as consumer IoT
Industrial IoT refers to the deployment of connected devices designed specifically to automate an industry or a particular process of the same. Industrial IoT differs from consumer IoT in all facets like the level of security, privacy, integration with legacy software, response to failure, etc.
Consumer IoT is probably the simplest form of IoT as the possibilities for it are endless. Industrial IoT on the other hand is a lot more complex and needs careful planning and implementation. If your smart fridge fails to deliver as expected, the issue can be resolved in the next update. But, if a component in an industry fails to perform, the implications could be disastrous.

6. Interoperability is simply impossible to achieve
One concept will put to rest all doubts about interoperability: Open Source. You wouldn’t want to purchase a smart thermostat only to find it incompatible with your smartphone. After all, ease of use is the bottom line for IoT.
Vendors like ARM plan to make their IoT standards public. Open Source designs and software will enable different vendors to make products interoperable. Several Open Source summits are being organized. Recently, giants like Apple, Microsoft joined Facebook’s Open Source project to provide designs for their data center.

7. The Data will be impossible to handle
The upcoming wave of IoT products plans to bring along an avalanche of data with it. Some argue that the process of data storage, management and analysis will be an uphill task, maybe even impossible.
But, experts say that not all data needs to be sent over to the device or cloud to be analyzed. A smart device like a thermostat will take an action to reduce or increase the temperature only when the present conditions change. Hence, the garbage data can be eliminated, sending only the data related to a state change. Implementation of such logic can reduce the cost of data management. (Source)

8. IoT is feasible only for the market giants and not startups
Many startups get disheartened by the costs of investing in the Internet of Things. But, in reality the cost of developing an IoT solution is lesser that you think.
The declining hardware costs and Open Source standards that implement interoperability are key drivers in reducing the cost of IoT development. So, in the world of IoT a startup and a Fortune 500 company are at even footing.

I hope I have been able to bust some myths about the Internet of Things through the article. If I have missed out any point or if you have any feedback, drop me a comment below.

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