Think your IoT knowledge is up to scratch? Like many sectors that are experiencing a rush of innovation and creativity, with new businesses scrambling to enter the market at every turn, the IoT industry is rife with myths and misconceptions – and these can be limiting or even damaging to organisations.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common ones.
There are no IoT standards
This is sometimes cited as evidence of the Wild West landscape of the IoT, where every company is innovating and developing in the way that suits them best, and little attention is paid to ensuring interoperability, security or even basic levels of quality.
As a matter of fact, there are multiple different IoT standards covering everything from wireless connectivity to control protocols –IoTUK provides a basic introduction. The point is, there is not a single overarching standard that the entire industry follows and is likely to be for several years yet.
The IoT is M2M
Machine to machine (M2M) communication is clearly closely related to the IoT. The Industrial IoT (IIoT), whereby machines and equipment in industrial settings such as factory floors are imbued with IoT technology, is very explicitly a similar proposition. However, the IoT is structured fundamentally differently. It should be understood as a web, an ecosystem of interconnected devices, rather than a linear structure of machine after machine communicating with each other. Additionally, the IoT often includes elements of remote monitoring, control and data analysis which do not exist in M2M.
The IoT is all about sensors
Sensors are certainly a key part of the IoT – but they are only a part. Sensors measuring, say, temperature or oil levels are the endpoint devices in an IoT ecosystem – but that ecosystem also consists of the analytics engines or applications which make sense of the data collected, the connectivity along which that data travels, and more complex devices which may receive instructions back from the IoT ecosystem, and execute them. Thinking about the IoT in this multi-layered way is essential if data analytics and tangible business improvements are to be foregrounded in your understanding of the IoT – which they should be.
Security is a huge problem
Security is certainly a huge challenge for organisations producing or deploying IoT technology – but it is not an insurmountable one. The security challenges posed by the IoT are largely extensions or developments of challenges that have long existed in enterprise IT environments. The principles, processes, tools and technologies to meet those challenges exist; they just need to be taken seriously, and implemented from the outset rather than as an afterthought. Principles such as encrypting data in transit and at rest, and authenticating and verifying the devices and users within an IoT network are familiar friends/.
Industrial assets are difficult to incorporate in the IoT
As mentioned above, the IIoT is a major IoT growth and innovation area, introducing the connectivity and data analytics to manufacturing and industrial settings to drive efficiencies and extend the lifespan of physical assets. However, it is easy to assume that those physical assets need to be new and cutting-edge in order to be integrated into such an ecosystem. Not so. Many existing industrial assets can be leveraged as part of an IIoT solution, simply be incorporating connected sensors and media conversion tools.
It will be costly and complex for my organisation to get involved
This is perhaps the most damaging myth of all! It is easy to imagine that an IoT deployment will be an enormous undertaking, involving significant hardware and software investment and entirely new ways of working. But in fact, the IoT is a highly scalable and flexible area of technology to introduce to your business. It is perfectly possible to start small and scale up, and cloud-based IoT platforms enable a pay-as-you-use deployment model.