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Finding the standard in Internet of Things

Venkataraman Krishnan, Vice President and Venture Leader, Engineering and Manufacturing Solutions, Cognizant | May 26, 2016
Smart products not only provide reams of insight into product usage and status across the value chain if properly instrumented and personalised, but also enable continuous product improvements and influence strategic moves into connected markets.

However, that's difficult to do with so many standardisation bodies and consortia vying to become king of the mountain. As more organisations pursue ambient computing initiatives, standardisation attempts are more divergent than convergent.

Overcoming a lack of standards

This lack of standards might be overcome with a consolidated approach that meets the needs of various use cases and real-world deployments. In other words, ambient computing is moving away from a singular Internet of Things towards a plural "Internets of Things" that operate independently but can still connect to the public network as required.

According to research, ubiquitous or entrenched IoT deployments are still five to 10 years out, placing the technology at or shortly behind the original 2020 target set by many prognosticators late last millennium, when research and development in ambient computing first began. Hence, additional time and deeper collaboration might be required for this advanced view of the IoT to coalesce.

Pioneering standardisation groups may collaborate on different layers of IoT in areas such as consolidated protocols for devices and their connectivity; data management protocols, including collection, storage, modeling and analytics and application protocols that can be deployed to devices and desired ecosystems. The idea would be to develop an IoT framework that encompasses all the layers with hooks and connectors, covering all involved entities, from devices and networks to machine-to-machine and Web standards.

What is encouraging is that such a delicate collaboration has indeed worked in the past, most notably, amongst telecom service providers. Individual operators followed their own unique protocols until the Telecommunications Industry Association standardised multiple consortia that led to widespread agreements on data centre infrastructure, cabling, fiber‑optic color‑coding and other protocols. The same is true of ambient computing and for IoT.

Although there have been several small-scale IoT deployments, many organisations are reluctant to invest in ambient computing until large-scale victories have been realised or at least proven. However, as for intra‑organisational IoT deployments, conversations with customers in other industries are in advanced stages right now.

Industry leaders are trying to establish new thresholds of performance and deliver highly personalised customer experiences, products and services. Efficiency levels are also not compromised and organisations can expect faster transformation and disruption of their traditional business models.

But until the industry overcomes this lack of collaboration, the race to consolidate standards will continue. The evolution will be around multiple standards paving the way to the best-of-breed standards. And as always, the stakes are high for first‑movers. At the rate at which digital technologies, devices, connectivity and networks are evolving, the sky is truly the limit with IoT.


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