For some time now I have been involved in the machine to machine (M2M) and internet of things (IoT) market. Over the years, I have observed companies and individuals trying hard to make an impact. I have met thousands of people presenting their individual views as well as the views of their companies. It has been very interesting to discover how almost every company irrespective of their background or the industry, is assessing IoT. Assessing how it might impact them, assessing product and service trials, or assessing how best to scale and extract opportunities from deployed projects.
These have been the most exciting years of my life, and by the look of things, there will be many more exciting curves in the road ahead.
There are many ways to approach IoT and every company and individual is looking to find a unique approach. With everyone focused on their unique way, we at Soracom believe there is a missed opportunity. An opportunity for all of us to contribute in order to grow the market.
After much analysis, we coined the term “Democratisation of IoT” to capture the logic and rationale for collaboration we believe is needed to achieve collective success and avoid collective failure.
What do we mean by Democratization of IoT? Different individuals may define it differently and it may deliver different values for different companies. Nevertheless, we believe that for IoT to succeed we need secure and swift services that are affordable and available for all.
Why is this needed? Today the reality is that to remain in business enterprises need to continue to develop solutions and services that deliver value to the end users. Lack of swiftness of IoT product/service delivery allowing organisations in turn to achieve quick time to market with their products and services has been a problem, but things are gradually improving.
Security represents one of the greatest challenges in IoT. Hence everyone is placing great emphasis on it. Everyone is looking for right balance between levels of security and practicality of implementation and management.
Many Developers, Start-ups and SMEs are suffering with the need to compromise on security in order to make a viable business case. This is because many of the products and services they need are not available or deliverable within the required timeframes. And the very few that are available are either not affordable or not sufficiently secure.
Many developers, start-ups and SMEs are forced to route data over the public internet, increasing the need for encryption and payload size. This consumes more power on devices, increases data consumption and leaves devices visible on public networks. Additionally, in many instances this means that not only are users of such services unable to utilise data streams for analytics directly, but they face additional security risks from being forced to make all devices accessible on public IP addresses.
What is the impact of inconsistent IoT security? Everyone is affected, even large enterprises, because the entire ecosystem becomes vulnerable. Examples of the growing security challenge are the recent DDOS attacks, like the Mirai botnet attack we read about so frequently. These demonstrate that market segments currently being ignored from a security perspective can still prove capable of bringing down large businesses today.
Unlevel Playing Field
It is understandable that larger enterprises have economies of scale and get cheaper connectivity due to the higher volumes they purchase, but for developers, start-ups, and SMEs, limited availability of high quality, secure connectivity at affordable rates is a big problem.
Developers, start-ups and SMEs don’t always get the connectivity solutions they require on a level playing field. Apart from the tendency of many service providers to concentrate on the needs of larger customers, in most cases they are served by providers using legacy technology that was never meant for IoT.
The technology and service need to be designed, developed and deployed for IoT. Given the lifetime of many IOT projects and the likely need for continuous modifications, it is important to deploy services using platforms that are easy to deploy and maintain.
Lack of service or service below a certain level means vulnerabilities in the connected world. Democratization is important for IoT overall, and not only because of the business opportunities within the developer, start-up and SME market segments.
What is needed then?
IoT is the ultimate and absolute convergence of Communications and information technologies with an interdependence of all players on each other, leading to a potential collective success or collective failure of the entire ecosystem.
Delivery of secure, high quality connectivity to all, at prices that all can afford, would represent a major step forward and prove to be a catalyst to the growth of IoT.