More than twenty years ago Microsoft and Intel introduced, respectively, Windows Plug and Play and USB. These opened up the PC market to the masses, reducing the complexity, time, and cost of PC management. As the cost of operating PCs fell, innovation accelerated. USB and PnP might not have been the only factors at play, but they contributed to the creation of a thriving PC ecosystem.
Today IoT is still the costly domain of experts and is mostly inaccessible to the common user. Just like PCs the technology is great, but until the costs and complexity of ownership and operation we won’t see adoption rise dramatically. This is mainly because corporate decision makers are systematically averse to risk, cost, and complexity. Here are a few aspects to consider for the future of IoT.
As a start, everything from connectivity, to security, to firmware updates, should be standardized. By reducing the resources needed we can support both IoT solution cost models and the macroeconomic conditions necessary to accelerate innovation. Lower costs and technological barriers greatly incentivize innovative ideas that will find their way to market. Data formats should be standardized too.
Data’s importance and uses are almost limitless, but organizations still struggle to share data. This is true even in Smart Cities, where the benefits are so clear. This is why we need to define new standard data formats. If all entities use the same underlying data models, the shared data could help greatly improve management of projects and resources. Securely sharing data while respecting privacy concerns should be as simple as a business decision and a few mouse-clicks. Finally, all IoT devices require certain device management services to contain operational costs.
These could be anything from zero-touch provisioning to security, firmware updates, and data reporting. There’s also the question of the best way to future proof IoT investments. Choosing which device management platform to use should be a business decision, not one strictly related to technical needs. As businesses come and go, the regulatory environment evolves, our world continues to digitize, and IoT adopters should be able to employ whichever standard device management system makes the most sense. IoT device manufacturers, developers, and the IoT market would also greatly benefit from interoperability standards in support.
The real reason IoT adoption has failed to meet early expectations so far is not that we can’t appropriately scale the technology, but it’s that we haven’t paid enough attention to business concerns. Other industries can lead the way. For example, the GSMA and global cellular standards are starting to shape IoT.
Single connected objects can be deployed anywhere in the world, providing small and big organizations access to global markets. And with no connectivity infrastructure to deploy, cellular networks improve the economics of large deployments and proofs-of-concept. Sure, non-cellular networks have their use-cases, but it is hard to argue against this kind of economic rationalization. This kind of thought process is what makes corporate deciders happy. IoT creates immense value by changing the economics and logistics of data but getting to widespread adoption will require future proof IoT strategies with predictable, manageable cost structures.