To more thoroughly understand the Internet of Things (IoT), we interviewed 22 executives with diverse backgrounds and experience with IoT technologies representing both the industrial and consumer product spaces.
Specifically, we spoke to:
Mark Wright, Director of Product Management, Ayla Networks • Mikko Jarva, CTO Intelligent Data, Comptel • Fred Bargetzi, CTO, Crestron Electronics • Brad Bush, COO, Dialexa • Yannis Tsampalis, CEO, DogStar Life • Chuck Sathrum, VP - Energy, Embedded Logix • Kevin Coppins, General Manager - Americas, EasyVista • Andreea Borcea, Founder & Consultant, Efficient Entrepreneur • Imad Mouline, CTO, Everbridge • Charles Wilson, Principal, Fancy Company • Bill Balderaz, President, Fathom Healthcare • Rich Carpenter, Chief Strategist, GE Intelligent Platform Software • Andrew Trice, MobileFirst Developer Advocate, IBM • Darren Guccione, CEO and Co-Founder, Keeper Security • Tony Paine, CEO, Kepware Technologies • Sean Lorenz, Director of IoT Market Strategy, LogMeIn.com • Beatrice Witzgall, Founder, Lumifi • Kevin Pope, COO and Co-Founder, MatterHackers • Ameer Sami, Founder and Chief Engineer, Ottomate • Michael Oblak, CTO, RentingLock • Chuck Speicher, Founder, Security Fabric Alliance • Keith McKechnie, Solutions Engineer,USAT
Throughout our conversations, we found executives were often lining up with consistent answers to our questions, and had similar opinions about the present and future of IoT and M2M technologies. This consistency helped us draw some major conclusions about how businesses are addressing opportunities and problems in the space from an executive level.
However, at the conclusion of each interview, we asked executives what we were missing regarding IoT. Here, their answers were a bit more diverse and provide additional thought for consideration.
We asked, "What have I failed to ask you that you think we need to consider with regard to IoT?" Here are their answers:
We’re undergoing, and implementing, massive cyber attacks. No IoT devices are safe from getting hacked (e.g. Stuxnet project Aurora shut down the generator, but then Google’s Charlotte data center was attacked and the license plate of the perpetrator was picked up by a satellite 100 miles up in the sky).
There’s a big gap between the hobby and the M2M side of the industry. People aren’t aware of the disparity, but the cellular networks have certification requirements that people need to be aware of before making investments in M2M. Over time, something more affordable for faster development and certification will be developed to close the gap.
Connect devices to solve a business problem. IoT needs to focus on solving real problems rather than just building something. Don’t connect devices just because you can. These are for humans, not for yourself.
Seventy-five percent of all breaches occur due to weak passwords. Passwords that require four or five characters or less are easy to hack. Passwords should require at least seven digits with letters, numbers, and symbols.
Push the technology to meet your imagination. It's critical for developers building IoT to remain open to possibilities. People are using their imaginations to solve problems in new ways. Don’t let perceived tech limitations detract from creativity, and don’t be constrained by perceived technological limitations.
Multidisciplinary skills are key. You can segment into a software, hardware, or firmware career. Software has the greatest responsibility for security, and hardware has the responsibility to make devices secure.
There will be ongoing disruption of various industries due to IoT. Digitization and mobilization are growing, and business models must be relevant to developers. Decentralized business models (e.g. AirBnB and Uber) will be disrupted even more. Once all AirBnB rooms are connected you’ll be able to produce one-time use digital keys.
Share the APIs to the devices you are building. Build an open device so others can improve upon what you build.
IoT is a piece of the whole view of how we’re evolving with technology. Computers are moving into our lives in a new way. We're undergoing a paradigm shift in how people interact with each other and computers.
Security should be easy for consumers to set up.
Ask developers what they need. What else would you like to have in your arsenal so you can explore, invent, and innovate? How can we facilitate developers?
1) Developers need to eat their own dog food. We send our engineers home with the products they’re building to test them in their own homes and see if it really works and if their spouse calls them the next day with an issue. We give engineers the ability to go to a lab that’s larger than their desk. See how what their building works with multiple devices. How does it scale in a larger setting? 2) Get engineers into the field. Have them interact with the customer and the real-world environment. Don’t be shy. Don’t shelter developers. Let them see what’s going on. 3) Opportunities are endless. It’s exciting to see the power of linking devices in the cloud and collecting data.
What’s IoT giving us? The ability to see the use case and the ability to change the product after getting input from the manufacturer to improve the user experience. We don’t know what the potential problems are, but data will tell us pretty quickly. fRemain flexible and agile so you can refine the device based on the data you’re getting. Enable the capability to be flexible with the product to learn how it’s being used and make changes and upgrades while it’s in the field.
There will never be a single standard for exchanging data - sensors will have one protocol, sensor gateways another. Security is big question mark. There needs to be more focus on monitoring versus control. There will be multiple standards, and companies must be forceful in ensuring that effective security is built into whatever they’re working on.
We need to encourage new companies to stand on the shoulders of giants rather than making their own operating systems, which are inherently not secure. Companies are overcome with the excitement of getting something in the market. In time, they will get to business concerns like generating revenue and security. It’s a maker culture right now.
Don’t develop in a vacuum and out of context. Live with the products you are developing. Lift your head up to see the market dynamics. Things are changing quickly. Developers don’t feel a sense of urgency to change or adapt or see the bigger picture. IoT reduces wiring and expense. There are generational differences with regards to the meaning of IoT – wireless or not – and the ability to see the possibilities.
What are the development platforms that developers are working on? Platform choice is critical.
Who’s going to support what we develop? CIOs are going to have a problem when everything is interconnected. Ensure you have the topography of all your IoT mapped to your infrastructure and that it’s supported. CIOs may say they’re not going to allow anything to be attached, but that won’t last long. Developers must harden devices for the enterprise. There will be more Chrysler/Fiat problems to deal with, and this will bring more attention to the need for security and support.
Don’t forget about the human being as you are developing IoT devices. Don’t take human beings for granted. The more critical the IoT device, the more important the integration with the human equation. Don’t just focus on M2M.
What are other key considerations for IoT projects?
Are industrial projects really that different from consumer?
Will that evolve over time?
Let us know your thoughts!