Internet of Things — Is it time to slow down?

Many companies are in various stages of understanding how the Internet of Things (IoT) affects their business. While the concept of IoT is not foreign anymore, its adoption is likely to progress at a slow pace through much of 2017. While it promises to revolutionize the operations in many sectors, there are still huge concerns in terms of security, standards, slow market adoption and lack of talent in the field that can hamper the growth of IoT. Let’s look at the factors that will potentially slow IoT adoption:

Security concerns: IoT security will become a significant component of IT budgets. Interestingly, nearly 90% of organizations don’t have a cybersecurity strategy for IoT yet, according to the Cybersecurity Preparedness Benchmarking Study by the Berkeley Research Group (BRG). About 86% don’t have a strategy to deal with Big Data, while a mere 4% rated their cybersecurity program as completely effective. The result: Increased vulnerabilities and attacks by more sophisticated malware. Recent examples being malware vulnerabilities found on EZCast media streamers, CCTV cameras enlisted for DDoS attacks and new strain of malware detected in web-based SCADA systems, critical systems used by utility providers. A study by HP’s security unit Fortify found that 70% of popular consumer IoT devices are easily hackable.

Bland, iterative IoT-related products and technologies: While IoT dominated the narrative in the latest Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a global consumer electronics and technology tradeshow, experts were not too impressed with the kind of products on display. According to Forrester, IoT technologies are diverse and immature. Most technologies are in the survival or growth stage, with no established products. Smart appliances use Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, but nothing is yet revolutionary.

No dominant platforms and standards: The confusion around evolving standards is sure to slow down IoT adoption. For starters, there is no single definition of IoT. Secondly, IoT systems integration is a challenge as there are multiple platforms & protocols and a large number of Application Programming Interfaces (API). Most vendors who are just a couple of years into creating standards seek to protect their proprietary system’s advantages. With multiple standards that are based on different requirements determined by power, capability and use, there are no central standards or dominant platforms.

Slow Adoption: Like many evolving technologies, IoT will also encounter multiple barriers to adoption. Inertia, aversion to risk, budget priorities will prevent companies from adopting IoT in the near future. Lack of clear used cases and strong RoI will also slow down the adoption. For mainstream adoption, enterprises and companies will have to come up with well-grounded, customer-centric communication that answers the question “what’s in it for me”.

Lack of talent specialized in Big Data and Analytics:IoT data analytics will become a data science specialization and in-demand job. However, there is a huge shortage of talent to fill the growing demand for such jobs. A McKinsey study predicts that the number of data science jobs in the United States alone will exceed 490,000 by 2018, but only less than half the talent will be readily available. Globally, demand for data scientists is projected to exceed supply by more than 50% by 2018. Also not many universities offer data science programs. And the ones who do, reserve it mostly for graduate students. According to a recent survey 2016 Data Science Report, CrowdFlower found that 83% of respondents said there weren’t enough data scientists to go around.

IoT has the potential to revolutionize and disrupt the way we live. It will also provide entirely new applications and uses that will drive new business models and revenue opportunities. Therefore, if IoT has to become a true technology breakthrough, then it needs to answer two questions: What value can consumers get out of it and what are the problems enterprises can solve with it? We must also quickly address issues­­­ that will hamper its growth.

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