The Internet of things (IoT) has exploded in use over the years. According to statista.com, in 2015 there were 15.41 billion IoT connected devices installed worldwide. In 2018, there were 23.14 billion and it’s projected by 2025 there will be 75.44 billion IoT connected devices.
As with all emerging technologies, IoT comes with its own challenges. In this article, we’ll explore some of those challenges.
1. Security and Privacy
Security has two main issues, one it can be a risk to the customer, which also creates barriers to purchase and use. Two, it’s damaging to an organisation and its brand. We don’t have to look far to find examples of cybersecurity breaches. One example is the 2015 TalkTalk case where nearly 157,000 of its customers’ personal details were accessed, with more than 15,600 bank account numbers and sort codes stolen.
Dido Harding, former CEO of TalkTalk provided the opening keynote at InfoSecurity Europe 2018 in which she stated the board didn’t listen to or understand their cybersecurity teams. The security teams were also not forceful enough in articulating business risk.
If boards weren’t listening before, they most certainly are now. According to Gartner worldwide spending on information security products and services has grown each year. In 2019, the market is forecast to grow by 8.7 per cent to $124 billion. With demand for IT Security contractors increasing by 24% year-on-year.
Then there are privacy concerns. Not so long ago in news headlines was Cambridge Analytica. The company acquired personal data of approximately 87 million Facebook users via 270,000 Facebook users. Users who used the Facebook app called “This Is Your Digital Life” gave permission for their data and their friends’ data to be collected. This information was then used with “psychographic” tools to deliver targeted ad campaigns.
While Facebook and other social media platforms do allow paid advertisers access to highly targeted audiences. The app developers breached Facebook’s terms of service by giving the data to Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica’s CEO was also caught on film offering blackmailing services.
It’s arguable, depending on the device, that IoT leaves businesses and consumers much more vulnerable. With some suggesting that IoT offers greater concerns than stolen data, but direct threats to people’s health and life.
Security is often the last thing on a manufacturer’s minds as they race to get new products on the market. Research shows that people are concerned about their data and where it goes, but not enough to stop them from handing it over entirely.
2. The Customer Experience
There’s no doubt that IoT will massively improve the customer experience. Jergens Industrial Supply (JIS), is one organisation that has stated that IoT has helped them increase sales, lowered customer costs and improved customer satisfaction.
When JIS customers need to reorder all they need to do is press the JIS Express “smart button” affixed to racks, shelving and a few other locations. The buttons are based on the same designed pioneered by Amazon Dash Buttons.
However, push buttons are relatively simple in principle as compared to automated IoT devices that can detect when stock levels are below a level and need to be automatically reordered. Thus taking away more customer effort and streamlining the customer experience.
And this is another potential challenge regarding IoT, especially in B2C. Consumers are more tech-savvy than ever. If they purchase an IoT device for their home, it’s probably going to join an ecosystem of devices. Therefore, it’s important that devices can join this ecosystem and communicate with other devices seamlessly.
3. Staying Connected
At present IoT relies on centralised server/client systems to authenticate, authorize and connect different nodes in a network.
This system is enough while IoT is an emerging technology. However, as the statistics show earlier in this article, IoT is rapidly growing. These centralized systems will eventually turn into a bottleneck.
Tackling this issue creates a whole new set of security issues, with blockchain being a possible solution.
Technology standards which include network protocols, communication protocols, and data-aggregation standards, are needed for handling, processing and storing the data collected from devices.
However, there is a lack of standardisation in handling unstructured data. Structured data are stored in relational databases and queried through SQL. Unstructured data are stored in different types of NoSQL databases and they don’t have a standard querying approach.
5. The Internet of Things Talent Pool
According to research conducted by Canonical, businesses are struggling to recruit employees with the needed IoT skills.
Their research showed that the most difficult to hire IoT employees are those with knowledge of big data and analytics. Knowledge of big data and analytics was also identified as the most important skillset for IoT professionals, with 75% considering it a necessity for IoT experts.
There’s also a lack of talent with the technical skills to leverage newer aggregation tools. Companies are facing a shortage of talent to plan, execute, and maintain systems.
Technology talent is a massive challenge for organisations that want to spear ahead with their IoT strategy. They’ll struggle to find and retain talent, so they’ll have to offer higher salaries to attract the limited talent that is available.
6. Laws, Regulation and Governance
Laws regarding technology have always been slow to catch up. When technologies like Napster and Apple’s iTunes and iPod came about, they completely disrupted the music industry along with copyright laws.
New innovative IoT technologies may produce the same type of disruption.
With IoT devices coming from different parts of the world and then the data being captured by these devices, it produces a lot of regulatory issues.
It’s evident that there needs to be a clear regulation of IoT. In October 2018 the UK Government released their voluntary regulation for IoT called “Code of practice for consumer IoT security”. The UK government has indicated it may regulate the IoT industry if voluntary regulation fails to address a rampant lack of security in the market.
This lack of clear regulation may be that while some businesses are quick to take advantage of IoT technology, others may be more hesitant.
7. Intelligent Data Analysis & Actions
One of the huge advantages of IoT is the data that can be collected and analysed to make important decisions.
However, there’s concern regarding inaccurate analyse of the data due to flaws in the data or the model. Therefore, leading to the wrong decision making.
There are also challenges regarding the systems used to analyse the data. Legacy systems are built to handle structured data, but most IoT devices generate unstructured data.
IoT may be growing, but it’s likely organisations will face many obstacles along the way whether that’s hiring the needed talent or the technical barriers that face the IoT industry. Regardless, there is no argument that IoT is an extremely exciting industry which offers both suppliers and users many benefits.
Here at Edge Tech our IoT recruitment division helps our clients fast track their IoT programmes.
If you’re looking for IoT experts or for an emerging technology position we’d like to learn more about you.
Will Horner – Co-Founder
T: 07921 078 753