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IoT is Growing Up - It's Problem Solving Time!


Yesterday (19th April, 2018), I attended the IoT Tech Expo at Olympia in London. Having been away from the sharp end of tech for a couple of years, it was always going to be a bit of an eye-opener and I'm pleased to say that my expectations were met perfectly.

Eight years ago, when I first joined DesignSpark, IoT was just a whisper on the wind. Apart from a few geeks with Arduinos and some very technical people in darkened rooms, nobody was talking about IoT. That's all changed. Now, it seems that everyone in the world of engineering and business is all over IoT and finally, we're starting to have the right conversations. The IoT Tech Expo illustrated that perfectly.

From Identifying Opportunities to Addressing Challenges

You only need to go back a year or so to find conversations leading with, "what could we do with IoT". While there are some still having this conversation (which is perfectly okay, by the way), the industry at large seems to have shifted its thinking to addressing challenges in line with business need.

This is a true sign of maturity. It indicates that IoT has finally grown up. It's no longer a buzzword. It's a toolkit for solving business problems.

We're Not Quite There Yet

All that aside, IoT is still relatively young so there are still some lumps and bumps that need ironing out. Due to the myriad ways to connect devices, sensors and actuators to the internet and each other, different software platforms for connectivity and analytics, the IoT ecosystem is naturally complex and finding a "right way" to do things depends very much on the application itself.

With this, there is also an enormous skills gap. Not so much in the development and application of IoT projects - it looks like we've got that covered - but in the day-to-day business where all these projects will be put into action. IT staff, in particular, will need to expand their knowledge to include whichever parts of the fragmented ecosystem a business decides to run with. Analysts will have to deal with new types of data coming from different sources and the siloed thinking that separates operations and IT will have to be broken down as these parts of the business will be sharing resources and responsibilities. In short, everyone in the business could be affected in some way.

Security is Still an Issue

Another area where IoT is still not quite up to speed is security. Again, this is mostly due to fragmentation. Every device, every network hop and every application is a potential access point for hackers... And that's a real problem. Recently, hackers gained access to personal details by hacking a fish tank thermostat in a casino. Nobody expected that vector of attack. Would you?

Ubiquitous IoT

Smart devices are popping up all over the place now. So much so that people aren't even noticing. Amazon Echos, Hive thermometers, smart lamps, wearables - this is just the tip of the iceberg. IoT is about to get big. Really big. Are you ready for the thrill ride?

Full disclosure:

I work as a content specialist for IoT connectivity platform, Thingstream.

Literally THE founding member of DesignSpark. If you don't believe me, ask Pete. Content Specialist for Thingstream

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