Don’t miss my previous posts, “An Introduction to the Internet of Things" and "Four Enterprise Opportunities with the Internet of Things."
How well do you know the Internet of Things? Many businesses see real value in embracing the Internet of Things, but are not likely to launch large-scale IoT projects in the next few years due to uncertainties surrounding the technology. As advancements in connected devices and equipment continue, your organization will look to its internal experts to lead it into the future.
For now, the landscape is uncluttered and companies have a unique opportunity to position themselves as leaders in IoT if they are willing to invest time and energy into researching how IoT might benefit their organizations.
Earlier this year, Gartner identified 10 Internet of Things technologies every company needs to familiarize themselves with in the next two years:
- IoT Security
- IoT Analytics
- IoT Device (Thing) Management
- Low-Power, Short-Range IoT Networks
- Low-Power, Wide-Area Networks
- IoT Processors
- IoT Operating Systems
- Event Stream Processing
- IoT Platforms
- IoT Standards and Ecosystems
Most product designers did not develop hardware and objects now being integrated into an IoT system with security in mind because the mainstream application of the Internet of Things is a relatively new idea. Products hit the market with outdated operating systems and software vulnerable to information attacks and physical tampering. By segmenting hardware to its own network and restricting network access, companies can ensure stronger security measures.
"The promise of IoT is being able to assemble data from lots of sources, and we're not quite there yet," said David Smith, chief community officer at software vendor Revolution Analytics in Mountain View, Calif. While the promise of data collection from IoT is great, consumer adoption of connected devices has not yet reached critical mass – there isn’t enough data created yet to understand what that promise will be. Tech Target also cites a “lack of standardization” as a barrier to data collection. Currently, there is no standard of communication between them because so many devices use proprietary software
Companies like our client Rheem have potentially millions of devices that must connect to their Internet of Things technology stacks. Scale of this kind offers significant challenges. Within the managing and monitoring of so many devices, there are many requirements which must be met, according to John Weber with Avnet: “provisioning and authentication, configuration and control, monitoring and diagnostics, and software updates and maintenance.”
Low-Power, Short-Range IoT Networks
Gartner predicts low-power, short-range networks will dominate IoT connectivity. Depending on the needs of the application, there are many short-range technologies to choose from like: NFC, 82.15.4, IRDA, Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth Low Energy, Wireless LAN and more. Choice will be determined by requirements such as range, data requirements, security and power demands and battery life.
Low-Power, Wide-Area Networks
The end goal of wide-area networks is to reduce power consumption and the cost of data delivery for networks of devices with lower bandwidth requirements. These networks have better bi-directionality and support more devices over a larger coverage area. This is good news for organizations with budget and power limitations.
There are many types of processors used in connecting devices depending on what the sensing needs are for a specific application. According to Alex Voica at MIPS Processors, “some devices will perform a limited amount of processing on data sets such as temperature, humidity, pressure or gravity; more complicated systems however will need to handle (multiple) high-resolution sound or video streams.” Today, many IoT products use standard embedded processors or microcontrollers, but as the need to drive down IoT material costs continues, low-cost processors and connectivity chips will be required.
IoT Operating Systems (OS)
Traditional OSs consume far too much power and require very fast processors to operate; they are not optimally designed for IoT applications. Many other OSs have sprung up in response to this need. InformationWeek compiled this list of 8 OSs they believe will dominate the market: RIOT OS, Windows 10 for IoT, WindRiver VxWorks, Google Brillo, ARM Mbed OS, Embedded Apple iOS And OS X, Nucleus RTOS and Green Hills Integrity.
Event Stream Processing
According to SAS, event stream processing is the ability to quickly analyze time-based data in the moment as it is created prior to being stored, sometimes, even as it streams from device to device. “Traditional analytics applies processing after the data is stored, but for an increasing number of situations, these insights are too late,” explains Fiona McNeill, global product marketing manager for SAS. “Directly working with event data, when they happen, allows for faster reaction time – even influencing a situation before it’s over.”
As adoption becomes more common, IoT infrastructure providers are packaging various components necessary to develop a full IoT stack into single products to provide scalable, off-the-shelf solutions. IoT Analytics predicts the IoT Platform market will reach $1 billion by 2019. According to Gartner, these services fall into 3 areas: “(1) low-level device control and operations such as communications, device monitoring and management, security, and firmware updates; (2) IoT data acquisition, transformation and management; and (3) IoT application development, including event-driven logic, application programming, visualization, analytics and adapters to connect to enterprise systems.”
IoT Standards and Ecosystems
APIs will allow various ecosystems to communicate with each other because of the necessity for communication between devices and organizations. Unfortunately, a lack of standards and shared infrastructure presents a barrier in terms of cost and innovation to companies wanting to enter the IoT space. Open-source efforts will lead the charge in solving some of these challenges, but until then, fragmentation caused largely by Apple and Google and other industry leaders is hurting the industry.
Despite lack of awareness of the advancements in IoT technology, business opportunities will ultimately be boundless as we better understand IoT's various applications. Investing time and money into understanding these 10 technologies will afford companies access to a largely untapped market that has the potential to be the next technological revolution. Businesses that master the intricacies of the technology will position themselves at the forefront of IoT; they will be a force to be reckoned with.
What to learn how the Internet of Things can add value to your business?