For years, I have been writing about the promise and perils of the Internet of Things (IoT). In many of my articles, I described how the IoT could help transform society and kickstart the next industrial revolution. However, still many people and enterprises are not deploying IoT. We still cannot define in a unique and clear way what IoT is, much less explain how it will change our lives, without using the example of the smart refrigerator!
Why are we still at a loss with IoT? Let´s explore.
Lost in IoT Connectivity
With so many IoT connectivity options in the market, choosing the right one for your project can be complicated. It is a scary thought that billions of devices could be connected in a few years to decentralised IoT networks, with no interconnectivity between them, unless we use millions of edge nodes that transfer messages between devices connected in multiple networks. If it is already difficult to justify the ROI of a use case using a single type of connectivity – it is almost impossible to justify that these devices will need to communicate with other devices on different IoT subnets.
It seems that it is easy to get lost in so much connectivity technology. Isn’t that true?
Lost among hundreds of IoT Platforms
At least we can already intuit some of the platforms that will survive among the 700+ that some analysts have identified. I have only been able to analyse about 100 of them in some depth. Surely my methodology of Superheroes and Supervillains will advance the end of most of them.
It is no longer just one IoT Platform. Although they want to make it easy for us, companies like AWS, Microsoft or Google add concepts such as Serverless, Data Lakes, AI, Edge Computing, DLT and all the artillery of Cloud services to the core features of the IoT platform. It is easy to get lost in the architecture.
Data from the global Ecosystm IoT Study shows this confusion in selecting the right platform for future adopters of IoT. Same organisations indicate that they will use or at least evaluate several platforms.
Initiatives such as Verizon’s focus on connectivity and systems integrators abandoning their in-house developments to embrace leading vendors’ offerings, will reduce some of the confusion around IoT platforms.
Lost between the Edge and the Cloud
In “Do not let the fog hide the clouds in the Internet of Things”, I had warned about the degree of complexity that Fog /Edge Computing will add to the already complex IoT solutions. Now nothing seems to be of great value unless Edge Computing is included.
The Babel tower of alliance and consortia is consolidating, but people still get lost in the acronyms. News such as the merging of the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) and the OpenFog Consortium (OpenFog) to combine the two largest and most influential international consortia in Industrial IoT, fog and edge computing, has been hailed by many. The Open Group Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF) is defining the next generation edge computing standards for industrial operators.
And again, the question arises, do all organisations need Edge to start an Industrial IoT project?
Lost in Proofs of Concept
Businesses are estimated to be spending USD 426 Billion worldwide on IoT hardware and software in 2019 alone. Yet, three out of every four IoT implementations are reported to be failing.
Microsoft launched a new research report – IoT Signals – intended to quantify enterprise IoT adoption around the world. The survey of over 3,000 IT team leaders and executives provides a detailed look at the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar segment’s greatest challenges and benefits, as well as related trends. Perhaps it is not surprising that 30% of respondents say their IoT projects failed in the proof-of-concept (PoC) stage, often because the implementation became too expensive or the bottom-line benefits were unclear.
There are technical reasons – for example the use of Rasberry Pi or Arduino boards in the PoC and then later realising that more expensive hardware is needed for the actual project. There are economic reasons when organisations try to escalate their PoC to real implementations and then the ROI does not look as good as in the pilot.
There are organisational reasons when leaders are failing to go all in. If you cannot get the CEO on board, then the probability that your IoT project will end at the PoC stage is almost 100%.
If you are lost in the PoC, these tips can help you implementing IIOT.
- Solve a problem worth solving
- Keep it quick and simple
- Manage the human factor
Lost in selecting the right IoT Ecosystem
Today no significant ecosystem or network of collaborators has emerged in the IoT arena in spite of early and very interesting efforts being made by several players. Since I wrote “The value of partnership in Industrial Internet of Things”, I have heard, read and repeated hundreds of times how important it is to belong to an IoT ecosystem and how difficult it is to choose the one that suits you best.
Those who have read my articles know that there is no company in the world, no matter how great it is, that can do everything in IoT. Creating an IoT ecosystem either horizontal (technology) or vertical (industry) requires a lot of talent managers able to maintain win-win transactions over time. And according to the results, it appears to me that it is becoming very complicated.
Remember, you are not the only at a loss with IoT
When it comes to achieving an ROI from IoT, businesses really need to rethink how they are deploying it and ensure that they can manage their sensors remotely, secure their assets, use the sensors and devices data to make better real-time decisions and monetise it. However, for that to happen and to prevent the IoT projects from failing, businesses need independent and expert advice at several levels to find the right people to lead the project and the right technology and partners to make implementations successful.