Like most technological developments of our times, the Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding rapidly and is set to take over our lives in an unprecedented fashion. That said, there are still many hurdles and challenges that need to be overcome before we can move to Industry 4.0. Examples include cost concerns to telecom installers, lack of technicians, lack of clarity on ROI, and security issues.
In today’s blog, we discuss the major roadblocks to IoT, and how these can be overcome, especially in the workplace.
Despite the advancements of the past century, most business owners and government sectors are not enthusiastic about investing in innovations, especially when the ROI isn’t clear. Of course, with COVID-19, hardly anyone has the capital to invest in technology. But even in pre-pandemic days, most companies are happy if their current resources are working optimally. As they say, why fix what isn’t broken?
That said, those who have invested have realised the potential benefits of IoT, include:
- Better data management
- Operational improvements
- Cost reduction
These benefits can dramatically improve business value, especially for telecom installers that are perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of the 5G rollout (5G currently being the best enabler of IoT). Just going by the current numbers, IoT connects more than 5.5 million devices daily. And it can offer an additional revenue potential of up to 36%. The value adds up to USD 619 billion by 2026. And of course, we should also consider the indirect benefits of IoT when generating ROI (such as better services, the creation of a new workforce, data management, etc.)
#2 Lack of Expertise
As mentioned above, IoT requires engineers, supervisors, and technicians with a whole new skill set, one that is drastically lacking currently. Examples include:
- Radio-frequency (RF) design
- Hardware circuitry design
- Embedded platform operating systems
- Data routing and implementation
- Internet WAN connectivity
- Cloud connectivity
- API implementation
- Fibre to the home (FTTH) installation
Training is mandatory in the long run. But in the short-run, companies will have to augment their technical staff with hired specialists for IoT deployment.
#3 Expanding Technologies
One of the biggest challenges for individual consumers as well as organisation planning to implement IoT is the sheer number of technologies and devices available on the market. Simply choosing devices like a radio modem or router seems to require specialist knowledge. But the story doesn’t end there, since one also has to work through an array of communication protocols, networking considerations, edge communication, and so on. All this can be overwhelming.
And with 5G deployment seeming imminent, companies also need to think about network migration concerns. Investing in technology that is soon to be obsolete is a waste of money and resources. Ideally, companies should go for products that are 5G compatible or can be extended with 5G capabilities with added features.
#4 Managing Wireless Systems
Moving on, wired systems are fairly simple to work with and supervision. In case of a machine breakdown, for instance, the IT teams or technical support can reach the problem site and fix it. But with IoT, we are talking about a huge number of devices connected via the cloud that is constantly gathering, storing, and managing data. This requires remote access to wireless devices, making troubleshooting more complex.
A good example is lighting in smart cities IoT applications. With the new technology, municipal lighting systems can be automated for efficient and eco-friendly service (lights only turn on if they detect a certain level of darkness). This saves an enormous amount of electricity during day hours when outdoor lighting isn’t required.
But management is an issue. Management solutions include:
- Firmware upgrades
- Edge scripts
- New configurations to update and add functionality
But once again, implementing these measures manually will be difficult. And then there are security issues. The solution is to have central administrative access to all remote devices. These will help companies generate accurate performance insights and better monitor security. A centralised system also enables you to update deployment and perform upgrades and repairs as they arise.
Finally, maintaining security is a major hurdle to IoT deployment. As new technologies and processes like 5G network splicing and FTTH enable IoT systems in homes and organisations, there is also a growing need to safeguard the privacy and security of users. Hackers are also becoming smarter by the day, making cybersecurity one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.
Again we head into the wired vs wireless systems. Conventional systems are less accessible to external threats, and that’s why IoT solutions need to find ways to make wireless systems more secure. Of course, even with wired networks, one has to apply security over public networks to protect their data and virtual assets.
Companies are also beginning to realise that security goes far beyond installing the latest anti-virus. It is a multi-dimensional approach that seeks to secure all entry points without compromising network performance. Each organisation will have to work with security experts and device strategies that work best for them instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.
As you head towards IoT deployment in your company, you will also need to need to create strong privacy policies and provide the necessary education and training to all workers. There can be no weak links.
To sum up, IoT can revolutionise the economy, offering limitless potential from product creation to customer services, covering supply chains and interim processes as well. And with the rollout of 5G, telecom installers and service providers can venture into new business models and revenue streams. But this will be a coordinated effort, involving all stakeholders so that the challenges listed here can be overcome.