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Answers to your questions from the Real IoT webinar series

October 28, 2016


Theresa Bui

Yesterday we kicked off our four-part Real IoT webinar series, presented in partnership with ABI Research and hosted by the IoT Institute. In this first webinar, we focused on the key traits that successful IoT implementers have in common, as well as the best practices you can follow to experience similar first-mover advantages. We also shared several real-life examples of companies who have transformed their businesses and accelerated their success with IoT.

It was a great conversation with Dan Shey, principal analyst at ABI, and we appreciate the hundreds of you joined us for the discussion. You had a lot of great questions, and we weren’t able to get to all of them before we ran out of time – so we’ve answered all of the questions below. If you have additional questions, please let us know in the comments below.

And don’t forget to join us for the next three webinars in this Real IoT series. If you haven’t signed up for the others yet, go ahead and do so here.

What is the industry doing to help secure IoT devices?

Like every other industry, there is no single vendor that is solely responsible for IoT security. Instead, there is a complete IoT security ecosystem that is responsible for working together to proactively identify and stay ahead of developing threats. This IoT security ecosystem includes:

  • IoT Service Providers – Whilst many service providers, such as those in automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics and municipal services, may see their particular security requirements as being unique to their market, this is generally not the case. A key challenge they all face, for example, is that there are multiple, and often-inconsistent, laws dealing with privacy and data protection.
  • Device Manufacturers – Almost all IoT services are built using endpoint device and service platform components that contain similar technologies to many other communications, computing and IT solutions. There needs to be a set of standards that all of these devices adhere to.
  • IoT Vendors – Security should be designed in from the very beginning, starting with the developer toolkit provided by the network operator right through to the policies that are put in place to deploy, manage and secure the connected devices and ultimately the end service. For example, IoT connectivity management platform providers must enable the detection of anomalous behaviour AND the ability to automate responses to such behaviour – like the ability to automatically shut down devices that are acting suspiciously. Companies also need to build security into software applications and network connections that link to those devices.
  • Network Operators – Network Operators and IoT Service Providers often share similar security requirements to protect their assets, therefore it makes sense for them to leverage common security solutions rather than implementing duplicate (and potentially redundant) security infrastructures.

In our upcoming blog series on IoT security (webinar 4 in this series), we’ll spotlight risk factors and best practices for various layers in the ecosystem, and how real world companies are effectively securing their connected services.

Do you have a specific example on how they (ABB) eliminated downtime?

A great example is looking at ABB’s life before and after IoT. Previously, if one of their industrial robots went down, they got a support call. From a distance with no visibility, they had to painstakingly troubleshoot the problem – was it hardware? software? connectivity?

As there are many reasons a device could go down, it’s critical to have the right resources in place to identify root cause and get up and running again –fast. In an auto manufacturing plant, robot downtime costs $20,000 per minute!

Implementing IoT-enabled equipment has increased productivity 11%. With real-time visibility and 24/7 monitoring of every device, they are automatically alerted about any unusual device behavior, and can remotely diagnose issues, and resolve connectivity problems. It eliminates support calls, saves hours of time, and avoids the cost of sending technicians to remote sites.

Are most of the current IoT deployments using SIM cards providing 2G/GSM access?

There are many options when choosing connectivity, such as Wi-Fi, cellular, satellite, and low-power wide area networks. Connecting all of your devices, wherever they may be, is dependent on multiple requirements including technical, security, performance, reliability, and location. To simplify things, many companies are moving to mobile networks (cellular connectivity with 3G and beyond) to give them better control over the IoT experience.

Cellular offers global ubiquity, making it easier to connect wherever you do business, and scale to new markets. It’s also easy to deploy and manage, as connectivity is not dependent on the device environment such as connecting to a corporate wireless network. Having easier ways to manage connectivity plays a critical role in lowering operational costs for an IoT business.

Another big win is that cellular networks are inherently more secure. Cellular-connected devices are equipped with a standard SIM using hardware ciphering and encrypted key exchanges with trusted network authentication and authorization systems. The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network authenticates identity using various protocols – it all takes place within the device and SIM hardware, drastically reducing the likelihood of a device being hijacked or spoofed—thus securing the network connection as well.

What approaches have you used to help your clients get started down the IoT path?

The first thing we do is help companies understand that IoT is not about “things,” it’s about the services you want to deliver through connected devices to grow revenue and enhance customer experiences. In other words, first clarify where you want to go, and then create the roadmap to get there.

Also, look at what other businesses in your industry are doing to adopt IoT. We showcase a wide range of customer success stories to help others realize the real potential for meaningful business results that grow your bottom line.

Another great part about IoT is that you don’t have to go big all at once. Start small, test the concepts in simpler environments, and implement best practices that prepare you to scale up when you’re ready.

My business falls into the category of businesses who have waited on IoT – are we already too late?

Absolutely not. IoT is not the end, it’s the means to the end. It’s a transformative way to meet key business objectives–whether it’s acquiring more customers, increasing revenue, or lowering margins. Think strategically about where you want the business to go, start modestly and grow into it.

With so many companies claiming to provide “IoT platforms”, how should I determine which solutions to shortlist for evaluation?

(From Dan Shey of ABI Research): To find the right IoT platform that best meets your needs, here are a few key considerations for evaluating vendors:

  • Determine what their platform does – e.g., getting data from devices to the cloud or other IT platforms
  • Make sure they have global capabilities. It depends on your use case and applications, but it’s likely you’ll want that flexibility to scale.
  • Choose vendors that have the right experience for your verticals, as well as a broad (horizontal) understanding of IoT best practices.

You provided examples of companies in home security, manufacturing, etc. – are there any industries where you think IoT will NOT be widely adopted in coming years?

In a word, no. We have not seen any industry where they’re not thinking about connected devices to deliver new services Some verticals are growing faster than ever such as manufacturing, home security, and retail point of sale, which are a natural fit for IoT. But other industries like health care, agriculture, and business services are seizing on opportunities as well. Konica Minolta is a great example of taking a traditionally conservative business of office equipment, and using IoT to introduce a radical new paradigm that’s transforming how they do business.

The numbers and projections for the growth of IoT varies widely depending on who you talk to – with predictions as high as 50B devices by 2020. Do you think the market is over-hyped?

(From Dan Shey of ABI Research): Actually, no. While there are elements of the IoT story that come with hype, the 50B number is not far off. The rapid growth of sensor technologies is driving up the number of end points where things can be connected. That means the 50 billion number is realistic and will keep escalating.

Where things get a little distorted is when they try to translate that into real money. When they talk about trillions of dollars, they’re really talking about value-add for customers. We’re only just beginning to understand the numbers there as businesses transition to IoT.

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