The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects, such as smart appliances, car navigators, drones, etc. that can communicate, interact and exchange data over the internet. One of the earliest examples of IoT was a connected Coca Cola machine on the Carnegie Mellon University campus in the early 1980s. Local programmers were able to connect to the machine by the internet to see if a cold drink was available before making the trip.i
Today, the number of connected devices is nearly 20 billion and is expected to climb to 25.8 billion by 2022, more than three times the world population.ii Coupled with other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, IoT is poised to transform the world as we know it. No longer confined to the office, computing intelligence is migrating into our homes, our cars, our cities and the natural world. The socio-economic implications of this shift are garnering heightened attention from world and business leaders alike as they seek to strike the right balance between harnessing, and protecting, the explosion of data from billions of devices.
So what do leaders need to know about IoT?
1 – Ecosystems are at the heart of IoT
IoT is powered by ecosystems. A single IoT device manufactured by one company depends on external data and information to function. That data and information often comes from an end-to-end IoT ecosystem that requires the participation and integration of technologies and/or services from multiple industry players. For example, a navigation device may depend on data that comes from different partners, such as traffic data, weather data and accident data. The device that is able to provide the most intelligence will gain competitive advantage over other devices in the market.
Many large IoT deployments can involve interactions between more than a dozen players across a single or even multiple ecosystems. When these partner ecosystems are forged strategically, it makes it easier for an organization to deploy and manage complete IoT systems for a greater competitive advantage. And, as IoT systems become more sophisticated and specialized, the interdependencies between IoT ecosystem players are becoming increasingly vital and more complex. Participation in a strong IoT ecosystem can bring many benefits to businesses such as innovation, competitive differentiation, speed to market, market reach and agility and value creation.
Learn more – IoT: Why the magic is in the ecosystem
2 – There’s gold in all that IoT data
The internet of things is the newest contributor to the massive volumes of data created daily. Imagine how much data is generated and used by, say, an autonomous vehicle. Or consider how much data you generate in a day if you’ve enabled location services on your mobile device.
As the volume of IoT data grows, other applications or functions find value in that data. For example, an instrumented drill string on an offshore platform tracks depth, speed, angle, temperature, head pressure and other operational data. That’s useful for managing that single downhole operation. However, that data becomes even more valuable when combined with data from hundreds of other downhole operations. By analyzing that data, operators can predict and optimize the performance of drilling operations in similar environments or locations.
Combining data from different sources provides even greater insight, which can benefit multiple participants in the ecosystem – operators, manufacturers, maintenance personnel and other industry players. The greater the volume of data, the greater the potential value of that data. Much of the value of IoT comes from the interconnectivity of devices, processors and storage at the physical level and the myriad applications and services that transform bits into value. These data acquire greater value when shared securely with legitimately interested parties.
So, as data value grows, it becomes even more important to capture, manage and share it securely. Yesterday’s approaches to data management are no longer adequate in dealing with the volume, diversity and interconnectivity that characterize IoT. Scalable infrastructure and centralized management are required to implement effective data management strategies that can handle IoT data scale, gravity, integration and security challenges.
Read about it – Challenges of data management in the internet of things
3 – IoT data needs special protection
With IoT assuming a greater role in our daily activities, data theft, disruption of services and takeover of critical equipment become all the more consequential. The massive volumes of data generated combined with the rapidly increasing number of connected devices makes IoT security a formidable challenge. Routers and modems are primary targets for IoT attacks with poor security, weak passwords, unpatched vulnerabilities and hijacked software updates being the most common means of entry.
Well aware of these threats, enterprises are making significant investments to improve IoT security. A strategy to ensure private data communications with centralized data encryption, leveraging hardware security module (HSM) as a service, can help enterprises protect against IoT cyberattacks.
See how – Protecting the internet of things
4 – Contextual awareness improves IoT outcomes
Much of the value of IoT lies in the data – billions of IoT devices are generating real-time, relevant data all the time. However, with all that data comes the challenge of harnessing it for business or societal benefit. Contextual awareness shows great promise as a way of “framing” this problem for technology to solve, or in other words to put it into context. Contextual awareness is the ability for a given application to access information about the physical environment and automatically adapt its behavior appropriately in real-time. A contextually aware system is capable of detecting – and anticipating – changing circumstances in the environment and reacting to them in real time with the right response.
When applied effectively, contextual awareness frames the range of outcomes or behaviors that AI should suggest by narrowing the field of possible outcomes. This is particularly important for IoT applications, where targeted behaviors should be achieved quickly, with minimal data processing and power usage. And, as data sets keep growing exponentially, it’s also an inexpensive way to make AI solutions faster and more accurate. The more context, the higher the value of the data.
Find out more: Sharpening AI with contextual awareness
Harnessing the internet of life
Advances in AI and IoT connected devices are blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds, making it easier than ever before for technology to be a transformational force. Leaders around the world are exploring the ways in which intelligent, interconnected technology can help solve macro socio-economic challenges and benefit industry and society. According to World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, ubiquitous computing “has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment….”iii
Making this complex IoT ecosystem of organizations, consumers and technologies work together as intelligently as possible requires a foundation of direct and secure interconnection that can deliver the performance, scalability and security required to build a smarter world. Interconnection Oriented ArchitectureTM (IOATM) best practices enable the kind of real-time, secure interaction between people, locations, clouds, data and things to connect all these dots at the digital edge, close to where everything resides.
Power up your IoT strategy with the Digital Edge Playbook for the Internet of Things