Minding the Gap: Serious progress towards bridging the IoT ‘chasm’ – Part 1

Stephen Douglas of Spirent Communications

For both developers and network providers, the road to Internet of Things (IoT) has meant stepping into the unknown, but purpose-built test tools and services are now lighting the way, according to Stephen Douglas, Solutions & Technical Strategy lead, Internet of Things, Spirent Communications.

It is still early days and a lot of different opinions about the growth of the IoT market – from Gartner’s 20.8 billion devices by 2020 to IHS’s 30.7 billion by the same year and most CGRs between 20 and 30% range. But no-one is denying that it presents a massive opportunity for both product vendors and network providers.

Between those two key players, however, we are seeing an uncomfortable cultural gap that threatens to slow down the adoption of IoT solutions, generate negative feedback and erode confidence in the market. They are calling it “The IoT Chasm”. So what can be done to bridge this chasm?

From the developers’ viewpoint

For the developer, IoT connectivity adds a new layer of issues on top of the normal challenges of making a product that works well, is reliable and cost-effective. These can be summarised as:

    • How quickly and cost-effectively can I get my application on the network? The more prohibitive, expensive and time consuming to have an application certified and accepted onto the network can dramatically impact the business case for the Developer and lead them to look for alternative connectivity options rather than Cellular.
    • Will it connect in every region I ship to? If target markets don’t support the relevant connectivity and coverage then the applications addressable market can dramatically diminish. The problem for a Developer is how can I know this in advance without costly auditing.
    • Will the network provide a reliable connection everywhere my application is located? A reliable connection may not always be guaranteed (i.e. deep inside buildings, in urban canyons, in rural locations, during network congestion) meaning a developer needs to consider how their application will manage and cope during these periods.
    • Will the network deliver the needed Quality of Service (QoS) for my application to perform correctly? The fundamental use case of the application may be dependent on the 3rd party network providing the relevant level of availability, connectivity, coverage and resilience.
    • Am I responsible for security, or is that up to the network provider? Investing in Security is a cost to developers and the misconception that they can ignore this investment as they believe the network will provide the answers can lead not only to damage to their own business but can cause major issues on the wider networking environment.

The gap is a cultural one: the vendor is no longer just tasked with creating a great product that works well at a sensible price, the product must now deliver the same performance in whatever networking environment is available from any number of unknown providers across the globe.

In Part 2 tomorrow, Stephen Douglas describes the IoT ‘chasm’.

The author of this blog is Stephen Douglas, Solutions & Technical Strategy lead, Internet of Things, Spirent Communications.

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