Impossible to Overestimate Impact of the Internet of Things

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

How the Internet of Things Will Change Our Lives

Last week, I wrote about the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it relates to Big Data and chipset development.

Both areas are significantly affected. The IoT represents a fundamental and intense shift that adds so much to the already monumental universe of messages and data traversing telecom and IT networks. The IoT is not just using the Internet for something new. It is a complete reimagining of what it is and driving what eventually will be a complete integration of the Internet with our personal and commercial lives.

More than just data and chips are in play. ZDNet reports on an Infoblox IoT survey that collected opinions from more than 400 respondents in the UK and U.S. The companies had more than 1,000 employees. On one level, things look good for the IoT: 78 percent say they have enough budget and 75 percent enough staff. Seventy-three percent expect more money for additional staffers and 89 percent are “very” or “quite” likely to get increased budgets.

But the future will not be without challenge, according to the survey:

Despite budget, staff optimism and 46 percent of IT professionals believing IoT deployments will eventually become part of existing IT networks, more than half — 57 percent — reported their current network is already at full capacity, and may not be able to cope with IoT additions. Unless companies pour more funds into networks, they may be missing out on the deployment of potentially lucrative IoT projects.

The nature of IoT traffic is different from much of what flows through networks today. A refrigerator truck signaling that all is cool (literally and figuratively) is a short message that is capably transmitted on networks far slower than LTE. How this all meshes together and how the industry deals with the variety of messages, not just the total number, will be interesting.

Another fundamental question that the emergence of the IoT begs is the treatment of the collected data. A fully formed IoT world will produce an avalanche of data from every home and business. Using the consumer world as an example, the IoT will let it be known what a home owner buys, when the family is home daily, when it is on vacation, what medical conditions family members have, how they entertain themselves, what products are bought, and other nuggets that will make marketers (and hackers and scam artists) jump for joy.

InformationWeek’s Marc Loewenthal asks whether we have spent enough time figuring out how to limit and/or control access to this information:

The crucial question for the owner of the app or the device is whether data collection is limited to an identified purpose. The crucial question for users is whether they can determine when, how, and to what extent their information is communicated to others.

Channelnomics reported on a couple of surveys that both spoke to the uncertainty IT has over the IoT. The first was performed by Spiceworks, which found that 71 percent of 440 responding IT professionals expect the IoT to affect consumers and the workplace, and about one-third are taking steps to meet those challenges. The problem, of course, is that far more executives see challenges than are taking steps to meet them. The survey also looked at the steps being taken by proactive respondents.

The second survey is from GFI Software, which found that 96 percent say that the IoT will produce negative impacts for their organization, with 55 percent saying that it will produce new security threats and “extend existing threats to more devices.”

Many new technologies affect how telecom and IT networks work and lead to changes in what is offered to consumers and businesses that rely on them. It is possible to say, however, that no technology breakthrough since the introduction of telephone networks themselves, with the possible exception of the Internet itself, puts as massive and fundamental changes on the table as the IoT.

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