Device management presents a barrier to IoT at scale, says industry survey

Pilgrim Beart, CEO, DevicePilot

Management of thousands or millions of internet connected devices is posing a major obstacle to the success of the Internet of Things (IoT), claims IoT pioneer DevicePilot (previously called 1248).

These concerns are reflected in a survey of 50 companies planning to deploy IoT applications at scale across different industry sectors including environmental and industrial monitoring, elderly care/wellness, smart homes and cities, energy management, refrigeration, retail and public services. The survey ranked ‘risk to growth’ as the most worrying consequence of failing to manage devices, followed by ‘risk to revenue’ and ‘risk to brand’.

This may be one of the reasons why some of the ambitious predictions for IoT devices have not yet been borne out. While 12% of respondents had deployed a million or more devices in the field, 82% had deployed only 1,000 devices or less. However, respondents to the Device Management Survey expect these numbers to grow, with 70% of companies predicting an eventual market size of at least millions of devices and 20% predicting that they will reach the billions level.

“It is clear that most IoT companies are currently managing their connected products manually or by a mixture of manual and automatic processes,” said Pilgrim Beart, CEO at DevicePilot. “But as projects move from pilot to deployment at scale, the time and operational cost of manually logging-in to each device to perform an upgrade or check if it is working becomes a major barrier. Automatic asset management, monitoring and lifetime support are essential for the long term success of the IoT.”

Colin Chapman, CTO of smart commercial refrigeration providers Elstat said, “It’s important to maintain our leadership in the smart refrigeration market – simply put this means connectivity which gives us the opportunity to collect sales data and insights remotely. At scale, the management of those connected devices has to be automatic, in order to be cost effective.”

DevicePilot, an ARM mbed™ Partner, unveiled its new as-a-Service solution for managing the growing IoT ecosystem at the end of last year at ARM TechCon. DevicePilot™ continuously monitors and manages connected devices and presents a simple dashboard showing how many have been deployed, where and by whom, how many are not working and why.

“Managing IoT devices is a complex hurdle within the IoT value chain,” said Zach Shelby, vice president of marketing, IoT business, ARM. “The ARM mbed IoT Device Platform makes it easier for developers to build and deploy IoT devices at scale and coupling this with DevicePilot will help to alleviate this problem in IoT deployments.”

“Connected devices are deployed into the physical world where lots of things can go wrong. For the IoT to work like the Web, it needs an open ecosystem of interoperating, off-the-shelf products and services,” said Beart. “DevicePilot fills a major gap in the set of services required for successful IoT deployment.”

Summary of key survey findings:

  • 61% of companies anticipate 10x growth over the coming year
  • 70% estimate their addressable market to be in the millions of devices – and 9% in the billons
  • The most common business model is a combination of up-front fee plus ongoing service fee
  • Only 18% of companies describe their device management as “highly automated and slick”
  • The biggest perceived risk of not managing devices well is risk to the growth of the company
  • 86% of companies say that as far as managing devices is concerned, they’re either already in trouble, or expect to be within 12 months
Cees Links, CEO, GreenPeak Technologies
Cees Links, CEO, GreenPeak Technologies

Of the DevicePilot survey, Cees Links, veteran of the world of connected devices and currently CEO of GreenPeak Technologies commented, “It sometimes surprises me how many device companies don’t even know how many of their devices have been deployed, let alone how many are working. As the IoT matures, users’ expectations of service quality are rapidly increasing, and you really have to keep on top of this stuff. When it comes to the smart home we expect all devices to be connected and providing useful information for owners and manufacturers on usage, diagnostics, need for refurbishment and replacement.”

Toby Coleman of demand response aggregator, Open Energi said, “It’s interesting that most survey respondents agreed with us that the biggest risk of not getting device management right is the risk to growth. Our business model is based on aggregating flexible energy demand from very large numbers of connected devices; having an accurate picture of how those devices are performing and simplifying how we connect and exchange information between multiple control systems and processes is a vital part of scaling our business and maximising the value of the flexible energy demand we’re tapping into.”

“It’s remarkable how many of the companies surveyed are still trying to manage their device estate manually – and how many believe that they might be in trouble in the next 12 months as a result. Having managed large estates of remote devices automated device management is essential in reducing operational costs,” said Pete Easey, founder and CTO of Crowdlytics, providers of the next dimension of water management.

“The answer to device management is automation,” said Chris Wright, CTO of Moixa, a business deploying a solar energy storage product. “We need to be connected for multiple reasons including remote management, demand response and performance reporting; and if the product isn’t working or has lost connection, then we can’t bill.”

For the full survey report go to: www.devicepilot.com

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