Five things that are (still) holding back the IoT (Reader Forum)
The checklist for deploying Internet of Things (IoT) projects is long: Companies need to evaluate, acquire, test, deploy, integrate, secure, maintain and support their IoT deployments. At any step, things can go wrong. Software developers may run behind schedule and over budget. Teams may not all be marching to the same drumbeat. Integrating security can be a nightmare. It’s no wonder that, according to an oft-quoted Cisco survey, only 26% of organizations that implemented IoT felt their project was “completely successful.” That’s a large majority of companies who spent the time and resources to implement an IoT project, only to be disappointed with the results.
So what are the key challenges still holding back for IoT? The Cisco survey found lack of internal expertise was high on the list of reasons cited for why many IoT projects were unsuccessful. That challenge remains, along with several others. Here are five issues we see over and over:
- Hiring the right teams. The starting point for any successful IoT implementation is ensuring the right team is in place. Several job titles are in play—IT management, engineers, architects, developers, integrators and installers. And that’s just on the technology side. IoT projects often involve overcoming the divide between information technology (IT), business and operations technology (OT) leaders to ensure that each clearly understand the goals of the project and has clear expectations of what the end result should accomplish.
There is often a disconnect between these groups, and a successful project in the eyes of IT (it functions properly) doesn’t always match the goals of business leaders (it demonstrates clear business value or ROI) or operations managers (it increases efficiency). Everyone needs to be on the same page. Experience and expertise on the technology front can help OT and IT leaders and teams set clear expectations and achieve greater harmony amongst the many “stakeholders” of IoT projects.
- Dealing with custom software development. Software is the critical piece that enables users to manage, monitor and control connected devices and the data they collect. It can also be an expensive mistake if not properly thought out. Software development for the IoT is comprehensive and complex, involving embedded software development, mobile apps, desktop apps, analytics, reporting and more.
Software developers not only need to be skilled overall but must also understand the intricacies of the IoT itself. That means being able to design software that takes into consideration factors such as the device’s power and battery life requirements, latency requirements, API compatibility, and other characteristics of the specific IoT implementation.
- Picking and integrating hardware. Sensors, actuators, gateways, servers and routers are all pieces of the hardware puzzle, and all need to work seamlessly for an IoT implementation to find success. That’s often easier said than done, especially when the hardware comes from multiple technology vendors. Compatibility is key in IoT deployments; it will save time, money and headaches down the road. A single-vendor solution can help ease much of this pain.
- Prioritizing Security and Understanding the Options. Security consistently ranks high on every IT leader’s priority list for their IoT implementation, however very few know how to truly reduce susceptibility to attacks from unauthorized actors. Oftentimes, they get caught up in the excitement of new capabilities and getting them implemented quickly and determining how to secure them becomes an afterthought. However, they also know that connection-rich IoT networks are a goldmine for those who deal in compromised information. Data theft, DDoS attacks and man-in-the-middle attacks are all common occurrences in the IoT and in networks in general.
It’s OK to be paranoid—bad guys really are out there every day trying to compromise IoT deployments. IoT security is multi-layered and complex, and comprehensive solutions need to be in place at the network layer, the hardware layer and in the cloud software to protect organizations and their data. To ensure IoT implementations are as secure as possible, look for solutions that prioritize security just as much as you do. A good way to accomplish this is by avoiding piecemeal IoT solutions that cobble together hardware and software from different vendors. That means your security is cobbled together as well.
- Overcoming the ROI hurdle. Many businesses worry about how they can justify the expense of buying, installing and maintaining a robust IoT solution. Perhaps a better question is, what’s the cost of not deploying an IoT solution? What data are you missing that could help you grow your business? What insights can you gain by understanding your customers better? What process could be automated to save your business serious operational expenditures? Are your competitors getting these benefits while you are waiting on the sidelines? By putting together a solid business analysis up front that has true measurable business outcomes, organizations can easily overcome the ROI hurdle for IoT.
While the IoT is maturing quickly, its complexity has not decreased. There are still plenty of stumbling blocks in getting an IoT project off the ground, and, once organizations begin, there’s no clear, proven path to success. By tackling these five issues head on and implementing comprehensive solutions that help them resolve many of these issues quickly, companies will be well on their way to finding IoT success.