IoT: More Than Just Technology
There are many questions you need to ask and answer around IoT policies, legislation and application.
The Internet of Things has been in the news, home security systems, connected cars, smart cities, and environmental controls. Less publicized, but no less important, is IoT in manufacturing and other enterprise applications. IoT technologies are surfacing faster than government and other organizations can keep up. Weaknesses are already evident with standards, interoperability, security and privacy, and legal and economic issues. If you thought IoT is about deploying sensors and controls and processing the data, you have underestimated the impact of IoT. If you are new to IoT, I explain what IoT is in Are You New to IoT?
The 3rd Annual Internet of Things (IoT) Global Summit was held in October in Washington D.C., and focused on the policies, legislation, and applications of IoT. This summit was less about technology and more about the issues that will benefit and potentially harm organizations and citizens.
There were three areas covered at the event that I think will be of interest. Each topic raises questions that need to be addressed. The answers to the questions will accelerate or slow down your use of IoT. Evaluate the questions. If you are planning or implementing IoT networks and applications, you need to answer the questions to your satisfaction before proceeding.Security for IoT
In order to deliver the benefits that IoT technologies offer and gain business and consumer trust and confidence, it is important that stakeholders (service providers, vendors, users, government agencies, educational institutions) collaborate to tackle and resolve the vulnerabilities.
The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) in the U.S. reported last year that IoT has several security factors that both public and private sectors should consider. One session at the summit covered the report recommendations and where the industry stands regarding the implementation.
Current industry efforts around IoT security need to be on a global scale. We travel too much and communicate across borders all the time, so domestic solutions will not be enough. The following questions were proposed:
- How is security defined for different IoT stakeholders?
- Will developers of IoT products implement appropriate levels of security and ensure best practices uniformly or go their own way?
- Are IoT technologies delivering enough to ensure security?
- Is security in the IoT design or is an afterthought?
- How challenging is it to secure an IoT device? Can devices be used to deliver malware?
- Will IoT be in catchup mode like most IP applications today?
- There will be many solutions and innovations developed. Each will have its value, but will they be combined into one solution set for all the stakeholders or will dominant vendors like Cisco and Microsoft promote their proprietary solutions?
- Should there be a more standardized approach to IoT security, and if so, who should produce them? Standards committees are famously slow. Would you trust government agencies, that is, if there could be common agreement?
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IoT is impacting the financial services and insurance sectors, producing benefits for both providers and their customers. Insurance firms are now able to monitor driver behavior to determine car insurance rates. Panelists in an event session discussed the unique challenges for those companies in the banking and insurance sectors, and identified current solutions and key players.
I like the idea of lower insurance rates, but will the information be made available to the government and sold to other organizations? This is an issue of privacy in addition to security. Some of the questions you should consider, both as a provider and customer, are:
- How will IoT's disruption of existing products across the insurance and banking sectors be addressed?
- How will your organization interact with suppliers and customers?
- Can this industry learn lessons from the early adopters of IoT? If so, how do you go about learning these lessons?
Forecasts project that by 2020, billions of devices will be connected to the Internet, both wired and wirelessly. This creates opportunities for companies and innovators to create new ways of doing business. Traditional approaches to business, like feature innovation and price competition, will fundamentally change in order to increase the revenue on new products while remaining price competitive. If you expect to monetize your IoT effort, you need answer these questions:
- What changes will be required to existing business models and processes?
- Should your business model drive revenue and profit from services and less from products?
- How can IoT products and services make more profit and improve efficiency?
- Have you investigated IoT implementations in your industry?
- Have you investigated new players in your market? Don't assume today's market players will be the same next year.
IoT traffic will occur on the internal network and on the Internet. If the cloud is used, you will need increased Internet access. The network's capability to absorb and transfer IoT traffic is influenced by six factors:
- Bandwidth -- You will always need more.
- Network Delay/Latency -- Real-time delivery with real-time responses based on analysis means that network delay can cause the data to be delivered too late.
- Security -- This was discussed earlier.
- Delivery Accuracy -- No network is perfect, but knowing that there has been data corruption and correcting it can help minimize the impacts.
- Availability -- The loss of networks can be highly disruptive. An availability of 99.99+% is a good goal. If IoT produces revenue then its failure equals lost revenue.
- Resiliency -- How fast failures are resolved leads to either confidence in the network and its management or skepticism of the value of data collection and analysis.