Why Companies Struggle with IoT Deployments

It sounds easy. Just connect this device to the internet, and you’re good to go. Well, not exactly. There are connectivity issues, security concerns, privacy, infrastructure incompatibility, architecture to define, and questions about a return on investment. That’s a lot to take into consideration when trying to use the IoT.

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Connectivity

A device connecting to the IoT must pass through four basic layers before data can be exchanged. Depending on the layer, standards may or may not exist. The more standardized the layer, the easier the implementation. For example, the link and network layers have some standards for connectivity.

  • Link Layer standards include IEEE 802.3 (wired Ethernet), IEEE 802.11 (wireless LAN), IEEE 802.16 (wireless broadband), IEEE 802.15.4 (low-rate wireless networks for power-constrained devices) and 2, 3, 4, and 5G networks.
  • Network Layer performs the host addressing and packet routing, typically using IP addressing schemes such as IPv4, IPv6, or 6LoWPAN.

At the transport and application levels, few standards exist, making it difficult for organizations to implement a cost-effective IoT solution. 

Many organizations see the need for standards, but no one agrees on who should set the standards. The Open Connectivity Foundation is a possible solution. According to its website, the OCF is “dedicated to ensuring secure interoperability for consumers, businesses, and industries by delivering a standard communications platform . . .”  Until standardization happens, companies will have to set their own standards for interoperability.

Another important thing to consider is the network capacity to support the large amount of data will generate for the IoT devices, probably the providers have to improve their network in order to support IoT technologies.

Security

The IoT places more entry points onto a company’s network. Couple these with lax security practices and IoT deployment can pose a potential threat to an organization’s security. That doesn’t even consider the security vulnerabilities in a private home or office. Unsecure IoT systems can lead to breaches and attacks with considerable financial impact. According to the latest IBM study on data breaches, the cost of a data breach has reached 8.91 million per breach.

IoT deployments can create some security risks, such as:

  • Software vulnerabilities created by the interoperability of devices.
  • Publicly searchable devices that are not secure.
  • System malfunction while integrating devices.

Adding devices doesn’t change the types of security risks; it only increases the opportunities for exploitation. Organizations that have robust security in place for their existing configuration will apply those same standards. Those without a comprehensive security plan will open themselves to more potential breaches. For companies without an adequate security plan, that should be the first step in the IoT deployment.

Architecture

The development of IoT involves many concerns about architecture, because of the large amount of data devices will generate in the network; in order to solve this problem it is proposed to use devices to concentrate the data in the edge, it means this device will concentrate the information of certain electronic equipment and take certain kind of decisions and avoid going to the cloud; those things will reduce the traffic and provide efficient use of the network. This architecture is represented in the following picture.

IoT

But, this kind of architecture brings other risks related to security, new failure modes, low latency on the network, and others; consequently, system developers must develop and deploy applications on the edge with the understanding of such constraints. 

Privacy

An important concern about the deployment of IoT technology is privacy; because all the information from users will travel from your home to the edge devices, even to the cloud (depend of the architecture). In this scenery governments have to regulate the users information that companies will manage in order to protect the data privacy of citizens; another important thing is the development of technology to prevent violations to the privacy information. To prevent these kinds of problems scientists are working on methods to guarantee privacy using cryptography, blockchain, and protocol networks.

Infrastructure

The technology behind IoT raises issues when it comes to merging older, legacy systems with newer technology. Trying to integrate two disparate systems often results in vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities happen when the older systems cannot meet the security requirements of the newer technology. 

The mismatch may not be ideal. Being aware of the vulnerability may result in segmenting the network or adjusting a configuration to isolate the area of weakness. The critical point is to make sure the vulnerability is known so it can be monitored and addressed.

 ROI

Of all the challenges to IoT deployment, the return on investment may be the hardest to overcome, especially for large organizations. For many companies, an IoT deployment means costs for:

  • Upgraded Infrastructure
  • Increased staff and equipment for better security
  • Added development for interoperability
  • Integration of collected data

The benefit of IoT is more data faster, so decisions can be made based on accurate information. If the data can’t be delivered quickly, or it can’t be analyzed to produce actionable insights, the ROI isn’t there. So what if a device can transmit data that indicates a potential failure when the data arrives too late to have the part serviced or replaced? What use is data collection if the data can’t be used to improve operations and increase revenue?

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