Depending on which analyst report or expert opinion you listen to, the number of Things that will be connected to the Internet in the next five years will be anywhere from 1 billion to 100 billion. So let’s just assume there will be lots of them.
The second big area of conjecture is how they will connect to the internet – will it be 4G, LTE, Wi-FI, 5G or any one of a number of low-power networks over unlicensed spectrum?
The third concern is that after these billions of devices are let loose on us who will be responsible for managing them or, more importantly, keeping control of them. Every Thing has to be connected to some other Thing be it a home management system, a smartphone, a network controller or a central cloud-based server.
And by their very nature, they will all be sending data somewhere for some purpose and that data, even though it may be small bits from the Thing, will soon become terabytes of data when combined with all the other Things’ data traffic.
How will we know if all that data is clean or even complete? And who is going to pay for that transport of that data? Who will benefit from that data? And how will that data be secured?
I agree totally with Paul Clarke writing in ITProPortal that “many companies are still significantly underestimating the impact it will have on their businesses, their customers and the world in which they operate and compete. The impact of IoT is going to be nothing short of transformational, dwarfing the impact of even the mobile and smartphone revolutions. Like an exploding supernova, it will lead to the birth of completely new industries and the disruption or extinction of existing ones.”
According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, the three main barriers to mass adoption of IoT solutions, were identified as lack of privacy, insecurity and a widespread lack of knowledge of the IoT as the main public concerns.
It seems that at this early stage in the machine-to-machine and IoT saga we may be following the same path that so many industries have done so many times before in rushing to release new and exciting products and services without thinking clearly of the potential repercussions.
Maybe, just maybe, thought will be given to how best to ensure that everything goes according to plan and that nothing – data or revenue in particular - falls through the cracks.
Is this an area that network communication service providers can add value? Of course it is.
CSPs have learnt from harsh experience why the there is a need have overriding systems to monitor services from inception to revenue collection and they are now getting very good at securing those value chains
They do this not only for their own well-being but also for their partners. This is part of the new digital business where they can add considerable value. By using their existing revenue assurance and fraud prevention platforms they can can also extend coverage to assuring the business around IoT.
New players entering the IoT space may give little thought to the issues raised here. Their priority will be to get up and running as quickly as possible and get as much market share they can to become profitable or a target for acquisition.
But all that could come to a costly and screeching halt if their devices, their data or the revenues are compromised.
That is quickest route to a negative headline that could spell an early end to the brightest of futures.
Many will also find the cost of adding this extra layer of confidence a burden and for this market a ‘big brother’ with the knowledge and resources to provide the service on a pay-as-you-go basis could prove to be indispensable.