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Technological IoT Evolution: from Private Systems to Global Management Platforms

Posted on May 25, 2018

From small to large

There are two types of IoT networks in the world - large and small. IoT is characterized by a gradual transition of small networks into large ones, as technology projects grow. In other words, starting with a small set of sensors and IoT devices connected to the network, companies expand the IoT network as they develop a project. However, there is one big challenge.

About 86% of all IoT implementations in the world are small networks that solve various problems. On the global market, there are tens of thousands of companies that use smart solutions every day. Only 30% of companies have sufficient capacity to monitor large IoT systems. Large systems are those that have over 100,000 connected devices. According to the IoT World study, 28% of the total number of IoT players do not have the resources to manage even one hundred devices.

Companies have to apply small local solutions due to problems with scalability, which in its turn is limited due to the lack of financing, technologies, and specialists.

For example, 53% of companies in the world apply outdated devices and software, and 46% believe that they need specialized tools for the successful implementation of their IoT programs.

Interestingly enough, according to the results of the IoT World survey conducted among companies using IoT networks, 37% of companies did not have specialists responsible for IoT network operation, connection of sensors and servers. Moreover, 12% of the total number of companies admitted that they did not have the qualified technical support for IoT solutions.

However, 78% of the total number of companies are ready to expand IoT networks and operate a large number of devices on the condition that problems with financing, technical specialists and support are solved. Players are expecting that global standardized software and technical solutions will soon start to appear in the world, at least to solve non-specific tasks. It would eliminate not only the problem of development and support, but also minimize security costs.

Security issues

Security of IoT networks is expensive. IDC estimates that worldwide spending on IoT security will reach $1.5 billion in 2018. That is almost 30% more than in 2017, which indicates a significant increase in investment in this field. Almost a quarter of all companies have experienced at least one attack on the IoT infrastructure.

Additionally, the legislative requirements to personal data security have changed, which is the most sensitive topic for IoT. Since May 25, 2018 in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is applied which describes how companies should collect, store and process EU citizens’ data. Gartner analysts believe that European requirements concern 86% of companies related to IoT on the European market. The remaining 14% of companies do not deal with personal data, so the regulatory requirements do not concern them.

For all others, GDPR establishes strict requirements, the violation of which results in a fine of 10 million euros or 2% of the annual world income. For large companies as Google, a fine can amount to over $4 billion with $110 billion of world income.

However, the main innovation that entails additional development and costs is providing users with the ability to retrieve or delete their personal data. In other words, users can request their personal data from the company and manage it independently. IoT systems that collect and process data on a daily basis, for example in the management of premises, will require an expensive upgrade.

A survey of Fortune 500 companies showed that only a third of the respondents are ready to spend from $500 thousand to $1 million on a software upgrade to improve security. Gartner predicts that due to the introduction of GDPR, the security costs for IoT networks will almost double.

Global platform

Costs for technical support can be lower if we talk about a global platform for IoT device management. Today large software and engineering companies are trying to build universal solutions that are suitable for both the consumer and business markets. It is rather complicated, as consumers look for comfort, while commercial businesses look for effective management and production. Is it possible to combine these goals in one solution?

Gartner analysts believe that such products will not only appear, but will also be popular. These are modular software solutions that can be used for different purposes. The main advantage of such platforms is compatibility with all IoT devices. Previously, it was difficult to ensure it, as IoT manufacturers used various communication protocols: from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi and ZigBee. The ZigBee protocol is now becoming the industry standard, opening doors for the development of universal software solutions. The main principle of the global platform is the support of any devices, and this is the main turning point in the IoT evolution. The fact is that IoT devices are also becoming universal and allow solving several problems simultaneously.

From observation to action

At present, IoT devices collect data and transfer it to the program platform for processing. The function of devices is simply to inform the system to, in its turn, launch different scripts. For example, a motion sensor at the logistics warehouse sees the arrival of a truck, informs the system that launches the script – “to open the door of the warehouse”. Today manufacturers produce universal devices that not only inform systems, but also carry out a part of the script. If earlier the water leakage sensor informed the system of a leak, now there are devices capable of eliminating the risk of flooding. In fact, not only standards are unified, but also the script of the IoT system operation.

Universal and scalable

Developers of global platforms for IoT device management offer a new approach to the use of intelligent systems. It is based on enhancing the existing basic program solution for various tasks. For example, in residential areas, there is an IoT platform that manages premises: cameras, motion sensors, power consumption devices. The company servicing the residential area aims at reducing the consumption of heating energy. The platform developers add a new software module that allows a slight reduction in the heating of hot water in the absence of a large number of residents. The same principle can be used for the rational use of renewable energy sources. It is possible to add different modules for different customers to the universal IoT platform.

Problems

IoT global platforms are only beginning to emerge, and there is still no realistic picture of their operational efficiency. Only companies that produce their own IoT devices or get support from the world manufacturers can invest in such developments. After all, you can invest billions of dollars in a universal approach, but producers will switch to a new industrial standard. Another possible problem is the range of application of universal solutions. It is hardly possible to cover the needs of all companies across all areas of the economy or public services only at the expense of modular changes.

Again, we should bear in mind the complexity of developing a software solution, especially within a large-scale production or city. The universal platform will have to simultaneously support IoT solutions in residential areas, companies, production as well as to manage transport and energy supply. The creation and debugging of such a system may require huge financial and time resources.