The Internet of Things (IoT) is experiencing a remarkably fast rollout given its size and complexity, but this is leading many enterprises to confront key challenges before developers have had a chance to work them out.
This is a testament to the faith that organizations have in the value of their data and the ability of advanced collection and analytics capabilities to unleash that value in a tangible way. But just as drilling for oil is still a hit-or-miss game despite the advances in geologic surveying, so too will the enterprise encounter difficulty finding the real data amid all the junk.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, basic connectivity is likely to be an issue, particularly when dealing with consumer-facing applications. Many of the leading IoT use cases require real-time streaming data and analytics, which is compromised in the presence of multiple network protocols spread across the universe of connected devices. As well, many of the large processing centers, or data lakes, that will churn through the bulk of IoT information will likely incorporate a variety of vendor solutions that ideally should communicate across a language, the beginnings of which are only starting to emerge.
At the same time, IoT infrastructure will need to be integrated into legacy back-office systems if the enterprise hopes to utilize this wealth of new data for existing, or entirely new, data processes. According to Machina Research, 38 percent of enterprises are already using IoT solutions in one form or another, and that level is expected to grow to 81 percent as early as 2018. By the end of the decade, 43 percent of IT budgets will be consumed by IoT initiatives, with a good chunk of that devoted to integrating the technology into legacy operational systems, resource management functions and business applications like CRM.
Some developers are already gearing their products toward broad IoT functionality. A company called C3 is out with a Platform as a Service (PaaS) approach that leverages Amazon Web Services to deliver pre-built applications with embedded machine learning to take on operations ranging from predictive maintenance and fraud detections to asset planning and networking monitoring. The idea is that with a single platform, C3 can address multiple use cases as the enterprise becomes more versed in the power of the IoT to deliver real value. This is easier to accomplish in enterprise-facing or industrial IoT settings than in the consumer world, but as deployments evolve over multiple verticals like energy and health care, the company hopes to provide a single framework across an ever-increasing digital ecosystem.
Another way to forge broad integration across numerous platforms is to incorporate IoT functions into silicon. This is the idea behind the recent agreement between Intel and IoT specialist Telit that has resulted in an end-to-end reference architecture for industrial applications. The approach is built around Telit’s deviceWISE edge intelligence system that features device driver libraries and built-in cloud capabilities to allow organizations to quickly launch and scale IoT infrastructure. While the focus is on services like remote machine monitoring, production diagnostics and predictive maintenance, the platform is intended to allow organizations to easily connect these functions to legacy infrastructure.
At this point, no one is talking about a universally integrated IoT, but at least the tools are emerging to implement broad interoperability across enterprise-wide deployments. And since the internet itself is almost universally available, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the same level of performance on something as important as the IoT.
The technology for it is certainly feasible; all that is needed is the political will.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.