Cloud providers already started bracing up for the IoT cloud war - Amazon was the last years winner, but Microsoft Azure is hot on AWS heels.
Smart watches, smart phones, smart houses, smart cities… technocratic forecasts suggests that by 2032 each and every person will be surrounded by 3,000-5,000 mutually connected everyday things. Internet of Things (IoT) is not a buzzword any longer but our reality and a new business model. If your business is not in the game today, you should consider investing some money in IoT, because you might not be playing tomorrow. And, if you still dare to have doubts operating your business on the German market only, you may be willing to check the “Internet of Things in Deutschland 2016” research prepared by the International Data Corporation (IDC) team (read more).
Although the term is almost 20 years old (it was used for the first time in 1999), there is still a confusion about what IoT actually is or isn’t and the security and moral aspects of tracking and analysing its data. Nonetheless, last year was THE year when IoT was officially added to the english dictionary and became part of mainstream culture (read more). It doesn’t matter if we call it “digitalisation”, “machine to machine” or “Internet of Everything”. What really matters for a business is targeting the right audience with the right message in a real time.
The landscape of players offering their services in implementing, managing, analysing and securing IoT is still very divided. It reminds me of the early years of online advertising platforms and the real time bidding (RTB) ad exchanges’ landscape when the market was divided into thousands of small providers, publishers and advertisers. Now, after a few years and many acquisitions and consolidations, in fact only a few players matter. Any bets who will win the IoT race?
Trends show that the following points make a difference and should be taken into consideration when choosing an IoT infrastructure provider:
Efficiency. Data access and execution should happen in a real time. Quick analysis and reaction matter especially if you want to check availability of a product in the stock or a rental property potential while in a business meeting.
Scalability. It doesn’t really matter if your business is local, regional or global - operational demands will grow. The solution you need should be able to leverage the whole ecosystem of databases, mobile tracking, analytics, machine learning etc.
Cost control. It’s already proven in many studies that companies using IoT and cloud based solutions for analysing, operating and controlling their business are more cost-effective. No need to prove its importance.
Security. Not only the main infrastructure but also communication between devices should be highly secured. According to a study of Hewlett Packard, about 70% of IoT enabled devices are vunerable to hacking (read more). Only the German Volkswagen website registers about 6,000 hacker cyber attacks weekly (read more). Many users and developers are blogging about this problem too (for example).
At kreuzwerker we have insights and experience with the technical aspects and setup of an AWS based IoT cloud services (read more). This includes a device gateway which is designed to register any activity of all connected appliances, engines capable of filtering, transforming and forwarding device messages through the gateway, channels to send commands and store the last position of the device, log registry for controlling identities, associations, permissions, encryption and authorisation and much, much more.
Last but not least, a very broad and vague question: how to make the best use of this tremendous amount of data? Apart from the obvious examples such as Facebook, Apple or Google, IoT is widely used in transportation and logistics (eg. checking traffic and other “smart city” solutions). It is also prevalent in the private healthcare system for connecting medical sensors from multiple devices, adding computer vision, and analytics and allow doctors to create and interpret 3-D images. IoT solutions are not only used by online operating companies such as AirBnB, Netflix, but also Pantene (an app suggesting the product depending on the weather conditions), Barilla (QR code on the package which is linked to the website showing the ingredients’ origin) or Levis (real time inventory visibility across all the stores in some major US cities).
To sum up, such technocratic visions from the user’s perspective, complicated technology jargon from many business leader’s perspective and a tremendous amount of work in setting up an event-driven, risk exposed, automated environment from the developer’s perspective might seem scary in a way. However, before building “data porn” as it is, I would definitely encourage to hold the horses and prepare detailed business cases’ scenarios and a detailed monetisation plan. Stripping the IoT hullaballoo off the dramatization, adding a pinch of common sense and some cold calculations, finished up by wrapping everything in a sexy marketing language is my sincere advice for any company for 2017. IoT is a fact.
Image credits for the cover image go to Marcus Povey.