Referring to some of the most pivotal technologies as mere buzzwords is a disservice to innovation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such domain of technologies most people tend to refer to, without fully understanding its nuances or its technical aspects.
IoT has been mythicized beyond recognition by so-called technology experts since the first time the term was coined by sensors expert Kevin Ashton in 1999. Ericsson predicts that the number of IoT connections may reach 3.5 billion by 2023 with a CAGR of 30%. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever before that layman's misconceptions and fears about this technology are resolved.
This article will attempt to dispel certain popular myths about IoT that have cropped up because of surface-level understanding. We begin by framing an explanation of IoT that is easily understood by an industry outsider.
The Internet of Things - A Simple Explanation
At the center of IoT is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, and other objects as well as humans themselves. Each of these components is provided with a unique identifier and the ability to transfer data over a network.
These interactions over the network do not require any human-to human interaction and eventually would not require even human-to machine interaction. So basically, IoT involves taking all the things we use and connecting them to the internet.
The myths related to IoT usually arise because of this technology's loose definition and very broad understanding. The current understanding of IoT components consists of sensors collecting and transferring information, computers, and the facilitating network.
Despite several online news sites and experts trying their best to simplify IoT concepts, there seem to be several misconceptions making their way into discussions. Let us go on and discuss some of these myths and try to break them down.
What Are The Most Widespread IoT Myths?
The impact of the mythicization of IoT is not just harming the progress of this technology but leading to irrational fears. Due to these fears, the economics of IoT may suffer and funding for further research on these concepts would be stifled. The following are some of these harmful myths:
Myth 1 - IoT Can be Exclusively Marketed as a Product
Even experts in this technology refer to IoT as a product. Because of the lack of a sufficiently detailed definition of IoT, many refer to 'buying' the IoT product. Logically speaking, the vastness of IoT means that calling it a product does not make sense.
IoT is actually a technological method that facilitates improved automation and digitalization. The interlinked 'things' in an IoT system are objects of use and consumption and can be purchased as products. But the sheer size and complexity of IoT even within a single enterprise make it impossible to attach a price tag to the system.
Myth 2 - Sensors are What Give IoT its Value
The accepted definition of IoT - the network of intelligent devices using built-in sensors - gives rise to this myth. However, there are far too many components in an IoT system to attach value to a single one. If one had to give priority to one component it would be the data collected.
IoT also consists of the analysis applications in the system that evaluate and process the data collected from various endpoints. The system has no point if raw data is simply collected via sensors but the real value comes from transforming it into useful insights.
Myth 3 - IoT Will Take Away Our Jobs
Many workers believe that one day a robot, machine, or software would take over their job and do it better than them. They further believe that an ecosystem of such automated workers would communicate and achieve goals much more efficiently.
This myth is not too far-fetched but it needs better interpretation. Tasks that do not qualify as routine work or that cannot be determined with a clear set of rules cannot be handled by automation. If IoT is combined with artificial intelligence more repetitive activities can be carried out through algorithms and learning patterns.
Myth 4 - There is Only a Handful of IoT Systems in Use
It is often mistaken that there are not that many un-agentive devices in use by enterprises. Actual data from Statista shows that there are over 13 billion active IoT device connections compared to roughly 10 billion non-IoT connections worldwide.
Data analysts are clearly showing that the number of IoT devices is leaps and bounds ahead of managed devices like desktops, laptops, servers, etc. These devices are everywhere - power and utilities, business processes, HVAC, web cameras, tablets, personal devices and so much more.
Myth 5 - IoT Devices are Safe from Malicious Attacks
The main argument given by those who believe in this myth is that no one would profit from hacking into your smart TV or Near-Field Communication (NFC) badge reader. But the truth is that more such attacks happen than the general public is aware of.
A report compiled by TechRepublic revealed that criminal IoT attacks jumped up by 600% over 2017-2018 alone. An enterprise IoT network breach doesn't just lead to data theft but also data manipulation. The dangers of network disruption are imminent. This means operational and bottom-line losses and could even endanger the physical safety of workers and consumers.
Myth 6 - All IoT Devices Are Compatible With Each Other
Most IoT devices function within a limited domain where they work with other devices usually from the same vendor. Vendors tend to provide privileged access to the information collected from their devices via a cloud interface.
Another collection of vendors prefers to provide direct access to their devices. The IoT market functions on the back of predetermined standards that determine levels of compatibility. Devices that support the same protocols allow data, access, and control to be shared using these standards and protocols.
Myth 7 - There is Only a Single IoT Standard or Protocol
There are several IoT standards that are in development. Meanwhile, open-source IoT connectivity and security tools providers supply enterprises with standards to implement.
IoT also makes use of existing network standards like the 802.15.4 wireless protocol, the IPv6 communication protocol, and embedded control protocols like MQTT. The idea of an all-encompassing standard for all IoT systems and devices is impossible due to issues like market competition and vendor lock-in.
Myth 8 - Privacy Cannot be Ensured In IoT Systems
Security and privacy are two sides of the same coin when it comes to myths around IoT. End users and enterprises need to protect the information collected on their IoT systems away from other organizations or miscreants.
Myth 9 - IoT is the Same as Machine-Machine Communication
The data transfer capabilities of an IoT system resemble that of Machine-Machine or M2M communication. But there are more differences between the two than there are similarities. For instance, any number of hosts can act as repositories or control centers in IoT, which is unusual for M2M.
Using M2M analogies to explain IoT is understandable but comparing them is not as there are not so machine-like devices like humans and smartphones involved in the latter. You can instead see IoT as a distant extension of the basic principles of M2M.
Myth 10 - Traditional Enterprise Security Solutions can Protect IoT
In a network where devices communicate with each other constantly and network perimeters don't track traffic, legacy security solutions are not enough. Just because your IoT system is behind a basic firewall doesn't mean that it is protected from being compromised.
You need to have a security solution that can protect against attacks on devices that must remain seen on a network at all times. Whitelisting of devices must be carried out from a control center running on well trained machine learning algorithms. Granting of privileges and access must be overseen at all times by a dedicated security team.
ALSO READ: What’s the State of IoT in the Real World?
Gain Clarity to Elevate your Enterprise IoT Solution
IoT is all about expanding the power of internet connectivity beyond computers to other everyday processes. This technology also provides enterprises with better insight into environments that are currently further away from the reach of the internet.
If you are interested in a deep dive into how IoT can help with your software solution you should give a quick look at Daffodil's IoT Software Development Services. To make your IoT scaling ambitions a reality, you can go ahead and book a free consultation with Daffodil.