Biggest Obstacles Facing the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things continues to gain prominence as one of the most discussed emerging technologies. However despite its significant growth in recent years, the IoT’s potential has yet to be fully realized. There are still many business in 2016 that still haven’t taken advantage of the many benefits the IoT has to offer.

To better understand why this may be, we asked some of the best tech experts of today what obstacles could be preventing the IoT to reaching its full potential. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Steve Lohr, The New York Times - “economics, usability and security”
2. Gil Press, Forbes - “standards and security ”
3. John Greenough, Business Insider - “cyber security, data privacy, ROI, interoperability ”
4. Duncan Jefferies, The Guardian - “effective communication, security, transparency on data usage”
5. Joe McKendrick, Forbes - “complexity”
6. Chuck Martin, MediaPost - “behavioral changes, security, and privacy”
7. David Roe, CMS Wire - “establishing a single communication standard, data security and privacy”
8. Jon Bruner, O’Reilly - “lack of a killer app, interoperability”
9. Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld - “imagination ”
10. Meta S. Brown, Forbes - “IoT’s value is never greater than what management is prepared to do with it”
11. Steve Max Patterson, CIO - “privacy and security policies”
12. Charlotte Jee, Techworld - “security and standards”
13. Nicholas D. Evans, IT World - “lack of security and standardization”
14. Michael Kaufman, Architechnologist - “over-abundance of hardware, and method of control”


Steve Lohr - The New York Times

Follow him on Twitter: @SteveLohr

“There are several categories of obstacles that include economics, usability and security, but a critical one is suggested by the metaphor in the term -- the Internet of Things. When the technology and the economics were ready, the Internet -- and later the web -- took off because of open standards, mainly TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) for the Internet, and a few on the web led by HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol).We don't have their equivalent yet in the IoT world. Basic open standards are needed to fuel growth, innovation and efficiency.”

Steve is a seasoned tech journalist with a Pulitzer Prize to boot. He is an incredible force in the industry, covering technology since the 1990s. His works have been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Washington Monthly. He continues to write for The New York Time’s Bits.

Gil Press - Forbes

Follow him on Twitter: @GilPress

“The lack of standards and security risks will continue to slow down the adoption of the IoT for years to come. But the sudden emergence of a "killer app," possibly in the enterprise rather than in the consumer market, could accelerate IoT adoption regardless of any security and interoperability concerns.”

Gil is a contributor at Forbes. He covers subject matters relating to technology, entrepreneurs, and innovation. His passion for understanding and keeping up with technology has sparked important conversations in the tech industry.

John Greenough - Business Insider

Follow him on Twitter: @JPGreenough

“The top four barriers preventing the IoT from reaching its full potential include 1) Cyber security concerns 2) Data privacy concerns, 3) Difficulty defining the ROI and justifying the cost and 4) Interoperability problems.”

John is a Senior Research Analyst for Business Insider. With a focus on the Internet of Things, he tackles the various means by which businesses, consumers, and government bodies connect their things to the digital world.

Duncan Jefferies - The Guardian

Follow him on Twitter: @duncanjefferies

“Although some progress has been made on standards, there's still much more work to be done to allow smart devices and sensors to communicate effectively.

Secondly, there are legitimate fears about security: in simple terms, the more smart devices and sensors you connect to the internet, the more potential there is for hackers to find a way into sensitive systems. Unless these fears are properly addressed by device manufacturers and proponents of the IoT, they'll continue to limit its development.

Finally, there needs to be much more openness about how the mass of data generated by the IoT is used: who owns it, who benefits from it, and who can access it.

The IoT offers a huge opportunity to revolutionise everything from farming to healthcare. But unless a concerted effort is made to address the issues mentioned above, it will continue to be a concept with potential, rather than a truly game-changing one.”

Duncan is a London-based freelance journalist with a decade long of experience covering the emerging technologies on the environment, public sector, and business. He is regularly featured on The Guardian, among other major news publications.

Joe McKendrick - Forbes

Follow him on Twitter: @joemckendrick

“Complexity is the greatest challenge. We're talking about even "bigger" big data here, which could be overwhelming. There will likely be only a few grains of data that are of material importance to operations and insights, but which grains will they be? There is also a tremendous need for greater standardization and connectivity between core systems and the millions and billions of the devices, sensors and systems out in the field. Plus, IoT proponents will have to decide, almost on a case-by-case basis, how data flowing from connected devices, sensors and systems will be processed and analyzed -- will it be local, with minimal, on-site analytics, thereby avoiding network issues? Or will it be sent over the network to more powerful analytics engines in centralized locations? And, again, people will have decide which pieces of data are really, really important, and is it worth the cost and time to try to capture everything?”

With an abundance of impeccable professional experience, Joe has a fearless approach in covering developing tech trends. He is a Forbes columnist keeping track of innovations in technology and the impacts it creates on markets and careers.

Chuck Martin - MediaPost

Follow him on Twitter: @chuckmartin

"The biggest hurdles in realizing the potential of The Internet of Things have less to do with the technology and more to do with people. With IoT capabilities come a lot of behavioral change, which is never easy. Two other real issues are security and privacy. With billions of Internet-connected devices, it will be challenging to keep all the data flowing between and among devices totally secure. But the upside is that consumers will be able to receive relevant and contextual information just at the time they need it and many functions physically done by people today will become automated.”

Chuck authors the daily Connected Thinking and MobileShopTalk columns for MediaPost, where he also serves as the editor of the IoT Daily. He was named a NY Times Business bestselling author for his published works “Mobile Influence” and “The Third Screen”. His new book “The Internet of Everything” is currently in the works.

David Roe - CMS Wire

Follow him on Twitter: @druadh20

"As the Internet of Things (IoT) expands and matures, I believe that the principal hurdle that must be overcome to realize its full potential will be the creation of a single communication standard enabling devices speak to every other connected device.

While data security and privacy for IoT users also loom large as key concerns, they are not issues unique to the IoT. They are — or should be — pre-occupying every enterprise or organization doing business on the Internet.

By contrast, the sheer magnitude of the IoT’s current communications disconnect is enormous and and likely to grow.

Depending on whom you talk to, the Internet of Things will be consist of anywhere between 20 billion and 50 billion sensors by 2020.

In an ideal world, those sensors will connect and communicate with the cloud and each other, creating a “super web” where all devices will ‘talk’ to each other and where data can be transferred easily between devices and clouds.

Right now though, IoT devices are not being configured to speak a single language. As yet here is no universally accepted communications standard that will enable all devices communicate.

The result, then, is groups of devices that speak the same language communicating with each other, but unable to communicate with other devices speaking a different language.

Just as problematic is that these communications issues play out at the network level as well. Since networks must be able to communicate with individual devices to transfer data back and forth, those networks also need to speak the same language but presently do.

In the home devices space alone, for example, AllJoyn, Birllo, HomeKit, OIC are just five of the different standards being used just to connect home devices and get them talking.

So essentially, at the moment, while the mainstream media chatters away about the virtues and potential of the IoT, as well of course of the threats and menaces inherent in connecting such a vast array of devices and sensors, the reality for now and the foreseeable future is somewhat different.

Until a single communication standard emerges to organize the IoT around a shared language, I feel that its potential as a single, massive interconnected web is still a long way off."

David is a Paris-based journalist who contributes regularly to CMS Wire on topics of cloud computing, document management, & Information Management. He also serves as an independent content manager for software companies.

Jon Bruner - O'Reilly

Follow him on Twitter: @JonBruner

"The obstacles that the IoT faces are different for the consumer IoT and the commercial and industrial IoT. On the consumer side, the big obstacle is the lack of a killer app; without it, mainstream consumers won't see the value in connected devices and they'll remain niche products for enthusiasts.

On the commercial and industrial side, managers see the value but are worried that interoperability isn't quite settled enough to justify big investments."

Jon is a data journalist who serves as the editor-at-large at O’Reilly Media. His curiosity towards subject matters that pique his interest are translated into writing and coding.

Patrick Thibodeau - Computerworld

Follow him on Twitter: @DCgov

"The IOT brings radical innovation to how products are produced, sold and serviced. It produces new data sets, insights and sources of revenues. It is changing everything from workplace management (condition-based maintenance versus scheduled maintenance, for instance.) to how to use IOT data to sustain long-term customer relationships. The major obstacle is imagination.

It is difficult to imagine how connecting one product with another, and another, and so on, creates entirely new sets of data, services and relationships.

IOT technology isn’t the problem. The sensors are reliable, inexpensive and require little power. Wireless technology options are expanding. Data can be efficiently analyzed and mined with the help of specialized cloud providers. The standards will sort themselves out. All the pieces are there. The obstacle is imagining how to take existing processes, products and services and create something new out of them using IOT technology and approaches."

Patrick is a Senior Editor for Computerworld where he writes about cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues.

Meta S. Brown - Forbes

Follow her on Twitter: @metabrown312

"The Internet of Things is a framework for collecting data. The data is raw material for analysis, and analysis provides information for decision makers. And there’s the obstacle: the IoT’s value is never greater than what management is prepared to do with it.

All types of analytics face the same challenge; you only get value when the analysis drives appropriate action. Analytics failures are common, not because success is not possible, but because businesses don’t seriously plan to use the results. They don’t think through how they will use the information, they don’t commit to data-driven decision making.

IoT investments are more likely to succeed than many other data collection and analytics investments, when used in situations where people are already comfortable with measurement. Manufacturing facilities have used control systems for decades. Truck and bus fleet have monitored vehicles and drivers for a long time. In contexts like those, both management and rank-and-file staff have faith in data. They understand why and how to use it.

So what’s the risk with IoT? Having data isn’t nearly as important as having a good plan for using data. Take retail, for example. Many retailers have not made good use of the customer data that’s been available to them for years. Now they can add heaps of mobile phone monitoring data to the mix, but what value will they get from that? If they weren’t willing to use sales data to revise mailing lists, what benefit can you expect from tracking shoppers’ each and every movement? No benefit at all."

Meta is a regular tech contributor for Forbes. She is a recognized expert in text analytics and data mining. She is the author of Data Mining for Dummies.

Charlotte Jee - Techworld

Follow her on Twitter: @charlottejee

"The main obstacles to the adoption of internet of things technology seem to relate to security and standards. There are a whole host of different companies and associations working to different IoT standards, and research suggests a lack of loyalty to one common manufacturing standard for connected devices is hampering take-up. The other issue is security. Today's story that parents are being urged to boycott VTech toys after more than 6.3 million children's accounts were affected by a breach last year is one example of the inherent risks present when you choose to connect countless devices to the internet. Unfortunately it seems security has not been an urgent enough priority for IoT companies, and most worryingly of all, many of them seem to have not built in adequate security measures from the start. People will be reluctant to adopt IoT products for as long as we keep seeing these stories about hacks on everyday items like fridges, TVs and even cars."

Charlotte is Techworld editor, a post she took up in November 2015. She previously covered government and public sector for ComputerworldUK, CIO UK and Techworld in April 2014.

Nicholas D. Evans - IT World

Follow him on Twitter: @NicholasDEvans

"As with other emerging technologies, the IoT will be subject to the usual drivers and barriers to market adoption. Typical barriers for emerging technologies include lack of security and lack of standardization. In fact, we’re still in a wild west when it comes to IoT security. Fortunately, as is true with other emerging technologies, there are a number of companies, consortia and standards bodies addressing these initial barriers and, over time, you can expect these issues to be resolved by the economics of the market.

Another barrier to adoption is that IoT solutions are complex, and typically compromise a large number of vendor products and services, similar to the RFID world many years ago. The most successful vendors will be those who insert themselves into the large ecosystems that are forming in order to deliver complete, end-to-end capabilities for enterprise organizations and government entities.

While there any many IoT point solutions today, the real potential of the IoT will be unlocked as the technology becomes embedded into next generation business models at an industry level such as Industrie 4.0’s vision for manufacturing in Germany, or the Industrial Internet Consortium’s vision for additional industries such as energy, healthcare, public sector and transportation.

Organizations should look for IoT solutions that can integrate and interoperate with their future architecture and platform ecosystem for digital business, so they can leverage a full suite of technology enablers including social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and intelligent automation, as well as robust cybersecurity."

With a prolific career spanning more than 25 years, Nick now serves as the Vice President and General Manager within the Office of the CTO at Unisys. As a recognized IT leader focusing on innovation management, digital transformation, and disruptive technologies – including IoT – he is a renowned author and speaker, and regularly contributes articles to Computerworld.

Michael Kaufman - Architechnologist

Follow him on Twitter: @TheMrKaufman

"There are several obstacles when considering the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), but the largest is the current over-abundance of hardware (i.e. hubs) that are currently required to control the different "things" that are connected to our networks. We have been calling this "hub fatigue"™. As more devices are added to the IoT in a location, more hubs need to be connected to the router and soon additional ports are required. Someday soon, these systems will need to start to merge so that light bulbs from brand "A", a connected camera from brand "B" and a thermostat from brand "C" can all be controlled from the same device without an intermediate piece of hardware.

Another big obstacle for the Internet of Things is the method of control -- it needs to be a balance between touch-less assumptions made by the system (i.e. Michael arrived home and it’s after sunset, so turn on the lights and the TV) and simple commands given to the system (please turn on the coffee pot). The first comes though a combination of programmed instructions and machine learning that will evolve as the system learns about it’s users, but the second requires a method of input and needs to be free from the constraints of a single user's device... we suspect that voice control will be that solution.

We believe it is likely that one manufacturer will lead the charge with their own hub and the universal Internet of Things language. The question remains if that hub holds the language for a single manufacturer and requires use of a specific hub -or- if the language is set free for many manufacturers to innovate and create their own hubs, the way we have so many WiFi routers with their own strengths that make the evolution of the system move that much faster."

Michael is a seasoned Architect with 15 years of experience. He combines his passion for the craft with his strong interest in new and emerging technologies. He has written numerous articles about developing tech trends.