Internet of Things (IoT) Explained by an Expert
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a constantly growing and changing environment. AOTMP interviewed Dan Hughes to discuss the way IoT is changing the telecommunications industry. Hughes said that there are several benefits to the telecommunications industry. He pointed out that the most obvious is business opportunities to leverage their services for the IoT solutions. Other benefits are to implement IoT concepts for their own equipment and services to improve customer experience and satisfaction.
However, like all technologies IoT comes with risks. Hughes focused on a couple of risks that stand out. One risk is that organizations being left behind as the IoT evolution continues with new, more cost-effective services offered that leverage IoT. Another risk is aging infrastructure not being able to keep up with new demands as more devices begin communicating.
IoT isn’t a department or division of a company; it’s an ongoing journey or program that impacts the company at multiple levels. At what level does it affect telecommunications and how does it affect it? Hughes said that IoT is already affecting telecommunications is several ways. For instance, Verizon and AT&T recently announced their LTE CAT-M1 (may also be called NB-IOT) services specifically for IoT devices. Another area is offering new services that they’ve not historically been involved in. Verizon has acquired several companies in recent years where they are now offering full turnkey, IoT solutions to their customers (e.g., Hum, Skyward, Fleetmatics, Hughes Telematics).
The best way to collect and leverage the data collected using IoT to gain insight is highly dependent on the application, Hughes said. Hughes further explained, “Assuming a field level, industrial device application, the best method for collecting and leveraging to the data is to communicate the data in real-time from the field to make better business decisions with the asset.” For instance, field equipment that currently requires maintenance inspections every 30 days. Using IoT, the equipment could then be monitored remotely and only inspected when issues are identified which reduces labor costs, creates safer working conditions, provides predictive maintenance capabilities and reduces downtime of the field asset.
The best practice for defining the fine line between balancing monetizing data and protecting privacy is industry specific and creating that balance would be like the monitoring and control of a desalinization plant. Looking into the consumer health concern, monitoring and controlling the process is very valuable to those who consume the water but exposing the location, operation and data from these systems could be used negatively to contaminate or damage the system, Hughes said. Digging deeper into the financial side of the spectrum, Hughes discussed monitoring of consumer spending habits. He said the data can be leveraged for marketing, product improvements, warranty purposes etc.; however, the same data can be used to track and/or cause harm to individuals. For example, individual shopping habits or social media data could be used to determine when someone will not home, opening up opportunities for unimpeded theft at one’s home.
IOT IS CHANGING TELECOM
Hughes said that IoT is already changing the way that telecom companies operate by driving new technologies such as 2G to 3G to 4G and now 5G with each evolution being introduced in half the time from its predecessor. He went on to say that other ways change is noticeable is new competition from IoT focused networks such as LoRa, Ingenu and Sigfox, with more certainly to come, forcing the telecom companies to become more efficient and cost conscience with services. Hughes identified the main key points to using IoT in a cloud/enterprise/hybrid solution.
He said the decision to use an IoT solution will boil down to whether the industry:
- Is regulated
- Requires special security standards
- Has latency for mission critical data and how accessible the data must be
AOTMP: How do you think 5G is going to change the world of IoT?
Dan Hughes: “Since 5G remains focused on bandwidth and speed and requires a very dense infrastructure, I don’t believe it will directly affect the IoT world for years to come. However, indirectly the other networks (2G, 3G and 4G) will become more available and may become geared toward data only rather than voice quality level networks. I’m hopeful this will continue to drive the monthly service costs for IoT devices down and provide more efficient access to the networks for battery operated devices.”
Hughes recommends mitigating this risk by investing in updating infrastructure more often than past years, evolve and take advantage of these new technologies.
Financial transactions for instance, require special ever-changing security. Hughes recommends a hybrid solution where the secured data can remain protected inside the enterprise system, yet allowing the continued leveraging of the cloud for ease of access for the end users.
AOTMP recommends that an organization should keep the mind set that IoT is an entire organization strategy
and work with all departments to create the most effective, efficient and secure IoT solution.
The overall best practice would be to complete a risk assessment and evaluate the potential possibility of the identified threat happening and the impact it could have on the organization and the organizations customers.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Dan Hughes, VP of Technology, Flexware
Dan, a graduate of DeVry University, has led numerous high profile collaborations that provided innovative solutions for engineering, manufacturing and product development challenges. Prior to Flexware, he held the position of chief technology officer at Elecsys Corporation. He brings to Flexware nearly 20 years of high level experience in product innovation, engineering and technology business development. His area of interests include Internet of Things (IoT), Integration and Cloud Solutions.