As per Gartner, there will be at least 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020; other research anticipates as many as 100 billion. And the largest beneficiaries of IoT devices will be consumers – people who want to control everything from their refrigerators and home security systems to their utility costs, cars, and beyond more than that. As per the data published by SYK Cleaning:
a. 61% of older generations want smart technology for its cost savings
b. 52% of Generations Y have priorities for home security
c. 39% of millennial just think smart devices are trendy and cool. And 72% of them would pay up to $3000 more for a home that has smart technology.
d. Generation Z, just entering the consumer marketplace will consider IoT a given part of their lifestyles.
But this entire boom in manufacturing and supply of IoT technology does not come without its challenges. And manufacturers have much work to do in some key areas in order to truly ensure that IoT will and can become fully accustomed. Here are the six of them.
1. CompatibilityThe IoT ecosystem at its current state comes with a lack of cohesive standards in the fields of data exchange and connectivity. What that means for manufacturers is that they must take off their competitive “gloves” and collaborate on standards for the good of everyone. In doing so, they will all harvest the benefits of greater consumer adoption and market demand.
2. SecurityThis is an ongoing issue for both businesses and individual consumers. When an entire ecosystem can be threatened through hacking into just one individual device, the concern is real. Just recently, we learned that a couple of our power grids were compromised, and researchers at the University of Oklahoma demonstrated how easy it was by hacking into a wind farm through a single unit.
Security testing of all devices must include identifying any potential vulnerability, processes for validating user access, and data encryption, etc. Fortunately, there are some pilot programs investigating the use of blockchain technology, and this may indeed hold some effective solutions.
3. User ExperienceFor IoT devices to go thoroughly standard, users have to be comfortable with them, and they have to see them as more valuable than traditional devices. This means ease of understanding and use.
Manufacturers must conduct a lot of testing of devices before putting them on the market, including the following:
a. Compatibility of device hardware, operating systems, software versions, and communication protocols
b. Reliability of all components in a variety of environments and conditions.
c. User friendliness of application as well as usability in a variety of network connections, so that everything operates seamlessly regardless of platform.
4. Platforms:This will be the key to success of any manufacturer of IoT devices. Devices and connectivity will certainly become less expensive, making them more attractive, but applications that allow devices to connect and share information with other devices, aka platforms, are numerous and growing That manufacturer who will be able to bundle multiple platforms into a single product will meet a challenge that will give him a huge competitive edge.
5. EcosystemsThese will grow in the coming years, and there will definitely be “battles” among them. Ultimately, however, a few will emerge victoriously and will dominate entire sectors – smart homes, smart cities, healthcare, etc. This is just another reason why manufacturers need to find ways to collaborate to achieve standardization.
6. The Need for Real-Time Data Streams and ScalingWhile a refrigerator will not necessarily need to provide real-time data to its owner (other than alerts if there is a malfunction), the need for real-time data will become critical in some IoT device use and management, for instance - smart cities. For manufacturers of devices that require real-time data streams, there will be a need for continual updating as newer technologies and apps are developed.
Blockchain, again, has been named among the possible solutions to more efficient, near-real-time data exchanges. Yet, this technology currently lacks proper scaling mechanism, making it a questionable choice for larger ecosystems i.e. those created for smart cities.
Image Courtesy- IBM