A world where nearly everything we use is connected to the internet isn’t that far away. It’s called the Internet of Things, and it has the potential to fundamentally change the way we live our lives.
Most estimates about the IoT say that by the end of the decade, tens of billions of devices could be part of it, whether they be home appliances, manufacturing equipment, or smart clothing. But devices are only part of the IoT equation. In fact, if that were the only ingredient for the Internet of Things, it would fail to live up to the hype surrounding it. The real driving force that will fuel the usefulness of the IoT is data.
Information collected from devices that is analyzed, stored, and transferred to the right place will help the IoT reach its potential, but getting there will prove to be a challenge. The issue isn’t so much in the concept of the IoT but rather how well data will be able to flow to get to where it needs to go.
More data has been generated in the past few years than in the entirety of world history up to that point. Put simply, there’s going to be an enormous amount of data that needs to be looked at as the Internet of Things becomes a worldwide phenomenon. Moving all that data is going to be a formidable undertaking, with several characteristics of the IoT forming obstacles to the goal of efficient data flow.
One of those is that fact that many IoT devices aren’t being designed with enterprises in mind. The IoT provides many benefits for individuals, especially in the wearable and smart home market, but businesses stand to gain a lot as well. Enterprises as a whole generate far more data and need to analyze more information than individual consumers, but IoT devices generally don’t have enterprises standards in mind as of yet. That means devices intended for private individuals will struggle to keep up with the massive data flow for the system.
Perhaps one of the most pressing concern when it comes to data for the Internet of Things is security. As more data is collected on everything from machine performance to a person’s daily activities, that data is at risk of being stolen or leaked. The data can be considered particularly sensitive, especially for those devices used to monitor health. Many devices simply don’t have adequate security measures built in, but the security concerns extend beyond the devices themselves.
The IoT also includes cloud networks, software defined storage, and other systems that allow data to flow from one end point to the next. Should any of these components become targeted and compromised, the rest of the network could become corrupted, putting the data at risk.
As the IoT grows, more and more organizations will want to collect as much data as they can, but that deluge will inevitably include lots of data that is irrelevant to the purpose of collecting data in the first place. This irrelevant data can be considered noise that interferes with the process, essentially messing up the flow of data that’s needed for the system to operate efficiently. Organizations will need to take extra measures to ensure that the junk data is filtered out and discarded, keeping only the data that is valuable to them. Without this step, data flow will be disrupted, and the IoT won’t function smoothly.
Related to that problem is the use of multiple devices that basically cover the same ground. If a business uses two different devices that more or less do the same thing and collect and utilize the same type of data, that redundancy will interfere with data flow. Businesses will need to get rid of the redundant devices (with the redundant data included in that) in order to free up data flow and maximize the potential of the IoT.
While the Internet of Things offers a lot of benefits, its implementation is anything but a sure thing. Recognizing these challenges and planning for wars to overcome them will be an essential business strategy. Preparing now will help companies avoid data flow problems in the future, opening up all the possibilities that the IoT has to offer.