Gartner predicts that the typical family home will contain as many as 500 networked devices by 2020. Similarly, Ericsson forecasts 50 billion connected “things” by the same date.
Reaching these lofty projections over the next four years, however, will require a fundamental reorientation in the way that technologists and product designers’ work together to create successful “connected” machines. There is limited value in creating an advanced piece of technology that people don’t know how to use.
The evolution to ‘IoT 2.0’ will be difficult for many companies to achieve, not for lack of technological expertise but because they’ll fail to recognise the value of design in connected product development and what it means to people. In order for the IoT to be a success, user experience and design must be thought of in parallel with the technology, says Simon Johnson, practice director, Migrations, Xceed Group.
Businesses need IoT too
If the issues with consumer uptake of IoT are lofty, they are nothing compared to the challenges facing the business world. Of course, there are businesses that have adequately embraced IoT’s efficiency-boosting capabilities to improve performance. From embedding location sensors in factory components, through to retailers that can now monitor the number of people entering stores at a specific time and in a certain location, it’s fair to say that many industries will never be the same again now that IoT is entering the mainstream.
However, the business world faces a major barrier to adoption; in its current state, the tools that help businesses deploy and secure IoT devices are simply not fit for purpose. If businesses are going to embrace IoT, they must ensure their IT infrastructure is fit for purpose. With a heavy reliance on cloud, coupled with an increase in data transmitted and the devices connected to the datacentre, businesses must ensure their IT infrastructure can handle the demands the IoT can bring to the datacentre.
Will security and privacy concerns be the downfall of IoT?
Virtually anything that’s wi-fi-enabled, from kitchen appliances and heating systems to military drones, has the potential to be hacked, which can be a huge turn-off factor. The FBI’s recently issued warning that newer cars are susceptible to hacking only serves to highlight the issue of IoT security.
The fact is, the security risks inherent in the transmission of data over the Internet makes it all the more invaluable that businesses creating IoT enabled devices implement sufficient security measures to keep data safe and secure.
IoT clearly presents operators with huge potential for market growth, and with the phenomenon giving the end user a greater control of their connected devices from their handset or tablet than ever before, there’s a clear demand from both sides for it to work.
However, if this tech revolution is to truly take off, it is paramount for operators to have an understanding of how to build a network that will be able to cope with the level of expected traffic. The devices may only need to transmit small amounts of data at a time, but the vast numbers of them could have a detrimental effect on the quality of experience for the end user. The connections are low speed and low volume, but it’s the sheer number of them that’s likely to cause concern.
Dedicated IoT networks are being implemented and many are predicting that “5G” technologies will go some way to supporting the vast number of connections, but there are still likely to be problems with performance and reliability if the right solutions aren’t implemented.
Therefore, the success of IoT also relies on reliable, secure connectivity to enable the data to flow from one device to another.
And what about the sheer volume of data this will create? Given the number of devices connected and the amount of data generated, businesses must focus on their IoT service platform requirements at all levels – not just the individual servers or storage devices, but the datacentre itself.
Processing large quantities of IoT data in real time will increase the workloads of datacentres, leaving providers facing new security, capacity and analytics challenges so businesses of all sizes must prepare their IT landscape accordingly.
As machine-to-machine communication increases, datacentres will transform, so investment in the datacentre will be critical for IoT services to reach their full potential. This must also go hand in hand with datacentre managers deploying more forward-looking capacity management to be able to proactively meet the business priorities associated with IoT.
While IoT has the potential to make a huge step change in consumers’ lives and the way businesses operate, in order for it to contribute successfully to the business world, businesses must prepare. With billions of connected devices, businesses and individuals must ensure the information shared is safe and also ensuring IT estates can cope with the data and connectivity demands IoT brings to the table.
The author of this blog is Simon Johnson, practice director, Migrations, Xceed Group.
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