When it comes to connecting and integrating technology with day-to-day life, it's safe to say the future is now. The Internet of Things, as we've stated before, is "the intelligent approach to connect devices, integrate systems, and improve networks by leveraging and mining data gathered from reporting tools and sensors in physical objects and machines." And, it is indeed taking over the world.
With so much rapid IoT progress and accelerated integration, there are bound to be a multitude of barriers at play – especially for developers. These hurdles range from operational to cost-based, and include elements such as: cost, effective management of still-developing technologies, security, privacy, connectivity and interoperability, and power type and source limitations.
1. Cost of Production
At the present, the total cost of production for many of these IoT-based technologies remains high – and it's increasing. Many developers recognize the increase in spending will continue with an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future as industry-defining changes have an effect on the IoT, its associated technologies, and its affected industries.
For developers to truly optimize production from start to finish while ensuring a positive user experience, they must take the cost of time, research, resources, and dedicated labor directly into account. Core principles like security, data privacy, and ease-of-integration will increase total cost as well. Additionally, the implications of these costs affect the way developers work. Creating a truly digital ecosystem, with continuous data sharing and development of apps, physical and virtual machines, and data centers that are compatible with digital and physical technologies across global networks, requires incredible funding efforts.
2. Managing the IoT Mechanism
In the world of the IoT, developers are thought leaders and must conduct cost-centric analysis to accurately develop methods of delivery and go-to-market strategies. In a rapidly-advancing, tech-driven world, obstacles such as research and development, production, and data cultivation methods that are governmentally and legally compliant pop up every day, and developers need to prepare for that. As more industries align with IoT-centric technologies, more functions like Quality Assurance (QA), Research and Development (R&D), and beta testing will be required – all of which require a lot of time, money, resources, and most importantly, management.
Management in the IoT depends on two factors which developers consider regarding integration: connectivity and interoperability. To manage the billions of devices across networks and maintain connectivity, developers need to integrate capacity planning. However, the bigger challenge is interoperability – the task of enabling all the devices to operate and communicate with the each other without compromising performance, diminishing user experience, or breaching security. It's no easy task.
With so much data cultivation and innovation across physical and digital platforms, security is a prime barrier in the world of the IoT. With so many devices, networks, and connections using and transmitting valuable data, the IoT has become a haven for hackers. Developers know that hackers have already opened up and exploited critical vulnerabilities in everyday devices like mobile phones, baby monitors, smart home applications, security systems, medical devices, and wireless methods of financial delivery.
The sheer volume of devices and their dependency on shared networks is a challenge. Once devices are connected to the Internet, hackers can gain access if the proper security measures aren't implemented. According to an article on Wall Street Daily, "despite high-profile and alarming hacks, device manufacturers remain undeterred, focusing on profitability over security. Case in point: A recent survey by online authentication provider Auth0 found that 85% of IoT developers admitted to being pressured to get a product to market before adequate security could be implemented."
One lesson the age of the Internet has taught society is that hackers are usually ahead of the curve and based on the high volume of IoT devices (current and projected) in use, providing cybersecurity solutions for all devices is impossible. In short, compromised devices and systems dramatically affect lives and business.
4. Privacy from Prying Eyes (in the Sky)
People want their personal information kept personal and private. Just like security, privacy is major barrier in IoT integration. Think about it – security is important so people can maintain privacy. It's no secret that mobile phones have 'default' settings that track movement. These devices, along with wearable technology, automatically share data and transmit information that the average user might not even know about.
It's becoming increasingly more difficult to 'get off the grid', and as the world of the IoT unlocks new technologies, companies must maintain a level of trust between consumer and developer. Medical, financial, professional, legal, and personal information is valuable and consumers want to know their information and data that is collected is safe. Without trust in the systems, networks, and devices, complete adoption of the IoT will not take place.
5: Energy Issues
Everything requires energy to exist. As the IoT becomes more integrated into daily life, energy resources could prove to be a barrier. Although developers continue to create IoT devices, none of them are valuable without the energy to power them and their corresponding systems. Anyone with a smartphone knows battery life is fleeting. That's because users demand more of their devices to accomplish day-to-day functions.
As noted in an article detailing the Rate of Adoption of the IoT, Steve Rizzone, CEO of Energous Corp. (WATT) stated, “IoT is becoming more and more of a dominant market consideration and to support IoT you need two functions, you need Internet connectivity and you need power.”
This barrier, as developers are correct to point out, is more than improving battery life and density, but rather about finding new and better fuel sources and battery types – all of which are currently rooted in prototyping and nowhere close to development (see 'Cost of Production' above).
Not only is the energy barrier prescient, it's also devoid of a uniform solution. Powering the physical devices is but only one barrier. Powering the data centers and physical machines is a whole other challenge. Finding and funneling renewable energy to fuel data centers is already taking place and, as cited in Data Center Frontier, "100 percent of the power used at Apple’s data centers is now derived from renewable sources. Other sustainability leaders in technology – including Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – are moving toward a 100 percent renewable energy supply."
Just because there are barriers doesn't mean there won't be breakthroughs in the IoT world. Technology will open new doors and pathways for progress. Emerging industries are certain to create beneficial ways to power devices and maintain security.
Looking to Learn More about the IoT?
For those of you working with the IoT, CenturyLink Cloud® Platform is the perfect place to build your applications. Our global network provides superior performance for your IoT sensors and cloud applications. Our managed services handle operating system and application operations – allowing you to focus on more important objectives.
- How the IoT is Changing the Freight Industry
- How the Internet of Things is Taking Over the World
- The Function of Quality Assurance (QA) with the Internet of Things
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