More and more devices are getting connected thanks to the proliferation of the Internet, everything is now becoming what is typically called “online”. This has made Internet of Things or IoT a buzzword. IoT is termed as one of the biggest revolutions in the technology industry and it is believed that it will soon be a critical part of our day to day lives.
IoT is nothing else but a complex network of devices used to run a gamut of applications. It is helping people to manage from the simplest of tasks such as using their smartphones to say, assisting doctors in diagnosing health ailments, all done with huge amounts of data being gathered by the concerned devices. Understandably, there is an increasing dependency on IoT. So much so that according to Gartner, by the year 2020 more than 26 billion devices will be using IoT. However, as with any other new entrant in the market, IoT has its own share of challenges along with the benefits that it brings in. Of course, these challenges can be managed with proper approaches and solutions.
Here is a quick look at some of the top issues that need to be dealt with, especially for businesses which greatly rely on its advantages:
- Privacy: This is especially true for tracking devices and consumer-related devices. Many times, information is collected without the knowledge of the users and used by third parties for analyzing prevalent market opinions. Such kind of data sharing can cause legal problems. I had recently read somewhere that privacy is also a problem where important details or data is shared across social or cultural boundaries, wherein; people may not be comfortable doing so. To overcome this challenge, IoT vendors and device manufacturers must ensure that they discard the data that they collect or remove the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – this ensures that the privacy of the consumers is maintained even if there is a data breach.
- Security: This is understandably a foremost concern. IoT can leverage personal data of millions of users in its networks. If a particular device is faulty, there is a major risk of data theft. Such devices are also prone to hacking by cyber attackers. It will mean that personal information of users will be accessible on the public networks which can be then misused. Many of the security solutions available today are suitable for today’s computing devices whereas; the IoT devices require different solutions because these devices don’t necessarily have the storage capacity, operating system or the computational power to leverage the available security solutions.
- No Documented Procedures: In the realm of IoT, there is no documentation of practices. This consequently means that there is no standardization of devices. Such a thing increases costs for companies who are trying to configure their devices on a certain common platform. Unless devices are standardized, they will continue to face delays in procuring and analyzing such huge chunks of information.
- Connectivity: Devices connected with IoT require a considerable amount of bandwidth to function effectively. With millions of devices working simultaneously, it needs to be seen if there is adequate infrastructure to support such a large network. Sometimes, bandwidth consumption causes server issues. On other times, power consumption needs to be monitored as well. Making available high-speed Internet is mostly a problem for developing countries resulting in losses to businesses. Advanced solutions such as Fog Computing Models can help in decentralizing IoT networks and solving this issue.
- Development Issues: The benefits that businesses gain out of implementing IoT differ for each sector they are dealing with. What a developed country might require may change from what a developing country’s population needs. Also, the rules and regulations for employment of IoT for each country differ. As a result, IoT provides varied advantages to businesses. Yet according to the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2025, “38% of the annual economic impact of the IoT applications will derive from less developed regions”. Hence, it would be beneficial to design some sort of a global developmental policy.
- Detection: IoT is all about being real-time. If the devices face poor connectivity issues, disruptions during transfer of data, then the whole purpose of deploying an IoT-based solution is lost. Devices simply cannot afford disruption because it leads to data leakage or loss of data and faulty analysis. Thus, it is important to constantly monitor if the devices are facing any issues. There needs to be a mechanism in place to detect discrepancies in data gathering and network problems, something which is, unfortunately, regularly unnoticed.
As I mentioned earlier, security infrastructure needs to be strengthened on a priority basis. Thankfully, agencies are taking a note of this. For instance, though the figures for 2017 are not yet available, according to Gartner some $348 million were spent on IoT security worldwide in 2016, increasing from $281.5 million in 2015.
Some protocol also needs to be formulated so that all businesses can simultaneously benefit. For example, global policy requirements, regulatory concerns regarding data exchange, forming reliable networks, etc. are crucial so that there is a seamless data flow.
To think of it, all these challenges are actually inter-related. But if economies are becoming dependent on IoT for their growth, then I am sure these issues will be tackled soon and businesses will be able to exploit and enjoy the benefits of IoT.