Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the hottest topics in the tech world today. According to Security Today, every second, 127 new IoT devices are connected to the internet.
IoT has the potential to transform not just how people live but how businesses operate.
According to a report by Microsoft published last year, 85% of enterprise IoT decision-makers surveyed said that their organizations have at least a current IoT project, at full adoption, or in process. And 88% of the adopters believed in the importance of IoT to the success of their business.
IoT has received significant goodwill but remains far from its full potential because of the various challenges with the management of connected devices. Five major factors threaten the adoption of IoT by enterprises.
Sustainability and Energy Efficiency
About two years ago, research suggested that IoT devices could be responsible for 3.5% of global emissions by 2025 and that by 2040, that figure could rise to 14%. It also predicted that electricity consumption by the communications industry could reach 20% by 2025.
The findings challenged the mainstream idea that IoT devices could significantly increase energy efficiency.
In a world where human and animal existence is threatened by climate change, corporations are striving hard to reduce their energy footprint in whatever way they can. According to the World Economic Forum, IoT deployment can cut carbon emissions by 15%.
So, why, then, should enterprises be concerned about its possible negative effects?
The problem with connected devices and sustainability has more to do with production than implementation. In building IoT devices meant to ensure sustainability, we may be inadvertently harming the environment even more.
The efficiency of IoT (both consumer and enterprise) is in having all connected devices working together as a single ecosystem.
A smart home depends on the synergy of multiple devices, the same way that a smart city is only possible when all aspects of homes, offices, vehicles, and industries work together as one unit.
According to McKinsey analysts, interoperability is required to realize 40% to 60% of the economic value that IoT enables.
However, interoperability is threatened by the existence of different vendors and service providers, using different operating systems and technologies to power their devices. And the lack of standards in the IoT industry contributes to this.
Normally, a device from maker A and another from maker B and another from maker C should be able to work together effectively, but that is hardly the case.
Besides, with rapidly growing innovations, technologies used in connected devices can go obsolete quickly and render the devices useless.
What distinguishes IoT devices is their ability to connect to the internet. But there is a problem with connectivity, too: a lack of uniformity in communication protocols.
According to David Roe, a tech journalist, “Right now though, IoT devices are not being configured to speak a single language. As yet there is no universally accepted communications standard that will enable all devices to communicate.”
Another problem with connectivity is the challenge of the astronomical rise of IoT devices and that would put a strain on the internet bandwidth. Subpar internet quality defeats the purpose of connected devices.
Therefore, the more IoT devices an enterprise uses, the more resources it must gain to support the implementation.
In any case, the industry highly anticipates the commercial adoption of 5G as the new technology would mitigate the latency problems. But it is apparent that full-scale global implementation would take some time, and IoT devices would not stop increasing rapidly.
According to Stacy Crook, “IoT devices generate data at volumes that many companies are not yet well equipped to deal with.” However, the problem of "bigger big data" is beyond volume; much of the data being generated is unstructured, and that is already a challenge to data analytics itself.
IoT does not work in isolation, but with other technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics.
Without efficient resources to extract relevant data and generate actionable insights from the mass of data available, it is impossible to realize the full potentials of IoT devices.
Predictions say that, in five years, 80% of all data might be unstructured. Unstructured data are not problematic in themselves, but with the rate at which big data grows even bigger, the risks become higher.
Data Security and Privacy
Moving data to the cloud makes it more prone to hacking, and with the advancements in hacking strategies lately, there is a serious cause for concern. The big companies have not been spared attacks, and neither have small businesses, who are targets 43% of the time.
IoT devices are connected with each other and to the central enterprise network, and this increases the vulnerability of the systems. Hackers have more endpoints (especially seemingly negligible ones) to attack.
In 2019, there was a 300% increase in cyberattacks targeting IoT devices and the spate is down to the increase in the number of devices being used.
Even worse, many IoT devices work autonomously, and a hacker gaining access to them can wreak serious havoc, particularly using ransomware techniques. According to a report, the average time to hack an IoT device is five minutes.
Enterprises fail by not being proactive in their IoT security provisions. In a survey by the Ponemon Institute, less than 20% of the respondents could identify most of their organization’s IoT devices and 56% didn't even keep an inventory of the devices.
In addition, there are growing privacy concerns with the adoption of IoT. Connected devices collect a ton of data, most of which contain personal information, which the organization collecting them is mandated to secure. But with the number of data breaches lately, it has become difficult for consumers to simply trust companies with their data.
The revolutionary potentials of the IoT are undeniable but these challenges continue to hamper its growth in businesses as long as they remain unresolved. IoT adoption is currently growing at a faster pace than it is being effectively managed, and that makes it difficult to catch up.
To reap the full dividends of IoT and associated technologies such as AI and 5G, companies must rise to the challenges to mitigate risks associated with IoT adoption.