There’s a reason it’s early days for IoT though. Many challenges accompany IoT projects.
Security: A world of connected devices exponentially increases attack vectors. Any device could be hacked, leading to proprietary data being stolen or devices being maliciously used. Stephen Marcus, an angel investor in IoT startups, says security is “The Wild West” of IoT. There’s a debate in the market, he says, over whether standards should be developed at various layers of the stack (infrastructure, applications, connectivity) so that security protocols can be developed to those standards. But he acknowledges it’s too early to pick standards since they could stifle innovation.
Fragmented market: IoT is built on various stacks: a connectivity stack for enabling devices to talk to one another and transfer data from the thing to a central system; an infrastructure stack for managing IoT devices; an application stack for analyzing information and having vertically-specific programs. These layers of the stack use myriad components: sensors, network equipment, servers, applications, etc. The good news, according to Kaplan, is “all the technology is here… The fundamental problem is how to bring it together for real-world use cases.” It’s a fragmented market with piecemeal components available from different vendors, but it can be a confusing and difficult practice to compile the needed pieces.
Data: “There’s so much data, sometimes you don’t even know what to look at,” says Marcus, the investor. IoT can create a plethora of data streaming in from connected devices. The data needs to be collected, analyzed and stored. At this point, Marcus says, a first step to IoT deployment is instrumenting devices, then you move to analyzing the data.
Vendor overload: The promise of IoT has created a “euphoric” atmosphere for vendors, says Haksar of Autodesk. There already may be too many IoT startups focused on consumer technology, Marcus notes. More startups focused on security, connectivity and data analysis are needed, he says. It’s never been easier to raise less than $2 million for an IoT startup, he says, but it’s just as competitive as ever to raise additional rounds after that. Haksar says IoT consulting services are the “last mile” of implementations that are the most difficult. Almost every major technology company has pivoted their message to incorporate IoT. Combine that with the startups and Haksar calls it “a bunch of hammers looking for nails.” He says many IoT projects at large enterprises are in “the grind of proof of concept.”
Push and pull to IoT: Xively is a company that builds IoT “plumbing,” as Seaman from Freight Farms called it. The company – which is owned by LogMeIn – manages the connection of data from devices to the cloud. For Freight Farms, Xively aggregates data that is collected in the pods, sends it and processes it in the cloud. Xively GM Paddy Srinivasan agrees it’s early days for IoT, but says pockets of use cases are emerging. Forward-looking businesses and startups embrace the trend.
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