This article is featured in the new DZone Guide to The Internet of Things, Volume III. Get your free copy for more insightful articles, industry statistics, and more.
In order to learn more about the state of the Internet of Things and where it will grow from here, we interviewed 32 executives across a variety of industries actively involved in using or developing IoT solutions.
Paul Hansen, CEO, bbotx, Inc. • Anders Wallgren, CTO, Electric Cloud • Scott Hilton, Executive VP Products, Dyn • Darren Guccione, CEO, Keeper Security • Johan den Haan, CTO, Mendix • Suraj Kumar, General Manager, Axway • Brad Bush, COO, and Jeanette Cajide, VP of Corporate Development, Dialexa • Mathieu Bassaic, VP Product Management, Flexera • Tony Paine, CEO, Kepware • Mikko Jarva, CTO, Comptel • Tom Hunt, CEO, Windspring • Craig McNeil, Managing Director of IoT, Accenture • Joan Wrabetz, CTO, Quali • Aaron Lint, VP of Research, Arxan • Rod McLane and Justin Ruiz, Marketing, Ayla Networks • Kevin Bromber, CEO, MyDevices • Ziv Lautman, Co-Founder, BreezoMeter • Gibson Tang, Consultant, Azukisoft • John McDonald, CEO, CloudOne • Ezhilarasan Natarajan, VP and Global Head, Cloud Services, Beyondsoft • Chris Locher, VP Software Development, The Nerdery • Lancen LaChance, VP Product Management, GlobalSign • Ryan Betts, CTO, VoltDB • Nav Dhunay, CEO, ambyint • Steve Wilkes, CTO, Striim • Casey Markee, Founder, Mediawyse • Mike Mason, Head of Technology, Thoughtworks • Leon Hounshell, CTO, and Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist and Technology Evangelist, Greenwave Systems • Cyril Brignone, CEO, Arrayent
There was no majority decision on just one definition of the Internet of Things, but all the answers suggested that IoT is, at the very least, a network of connected devices. From there, two additional caveats were popular among the respondents. The first was that these devices have to be able to either sense, measure, react to, detect, or transmit data between each other and a software platform. The second was that these devices must be able to operate without continuous human interaction, since the Internet of Things is supposed to make data collection as painless as possible.
From the perspective of these executives, healthcare and home automation are two areas where IoT is currently doing the most good right now. Both personal fitness wearables (e.g. FitBit, Jawbone) and patient monitoring devices in hospitals can help everyday users and medical professionals keep track of vital health statistics. On the home automation front, tools like Nest can help homeowners save money on utilities, and new products like Amazon Echo can ensure their homes are secure while they’re on vacation or out on errands. There are several use cases that fall into the category of “industrial IoT” that focus on making manufacturing and energy consumption more efficient.
Several technologies are most commonly considered to be responsible for the rise in IoT technology: low-power devices and messaging protocols, sensor networks, and analytics solutions. Many of the connected devices that make up the Internet of Things take advantage of built-in sensors to collect data. This data helps users or other devices make informed decisions and monitor outside events. Low-power technologies and messaging services are key to keeping those sensors working for longer periods of time without manual maintenance or the loss of data that can be collected. Because these sensors are able to collect more data for longer periods of time, analytics tools are becoming essential to an effective IoT system to put the most important information to good use.
While big data analytics are important to the success of IoT thus far, nearly half of the respondents also saw the space as an important area for growth, as improved analytics will only help users make the most of their IoT devices. Real-time analytics in particular will allow users to make snap decisions based on real-time data, making IoT technology even more useful and efficient. Many experts also saw an opportunity for growth in the current fragmentation of IoT standards and protocols. Many argued that if there was a way to officially standardize the way IoT devices operate and communicate with each other, it could be a huge boon to the space as a whole.
The only majority consensus between all the respondents was in regard to the barriers and pain points in developing and adopting IoT devices. Security was far and above the most pressing issue in the minds of executives, pointing both to the security of collected data, as seen in the VTech hacking debacle in December 2015, and the possibility of hacking sensors, other devices, and software. Building on the standardization issue, several executives felt that the current fragmentation may lead to adoption issues as consumers may struggle to connect devices from different manufacturers together. Another point of view worth considering, shared by a small group, believed the strategies of some companies to try and become a centralized provider of all possible IoT solutions may only be increasing fragmentation in the market. Ironically, many of these companies or non-profit consortiums may only be trying to fix the perceived standardization issue in the first place.
Wearables are currently seen as the most widely-used IoT technology right now. The second most popular option among executives was Bluetooth, a radio-based data communication standard which is currently implemented in most mobile devices and personal computers, as well as several car models. Home automation technologies were also mentioned frequently. A small group of respondents pointed out that mobile phones, which are typically used to interact with home automation systems and wearables, are owned by a vast majority of the population and could be considered IoT devices.
There was incredible diversity in the technologies that the respondents were personally interested in, as there was no overwhelming majority favorite. While home automation, medical technologies, and smart appliances attracted the most interest, many industrial IoT use cases were also exciting to numerous respondents such as agriculture monitoring, manufacturing, utilities monitoring, and smart city technology.
When asked about the best skills for developing IoT applications, an equal number of respondents believed that either hardware development, sof tware development, or a combination of both were necessary. After that, experience with networking is preferred, as all IoT devices, as determined earlier, must be connected to the Internet at the very least. Mobile development, embedded programming, data analytics, and security experience were all tied for the third most important skill. As previously mentioned, security and analytics are key to the growth of IoT, and mobile devices are of ten used to interact with these devices.
To continue to drive adoption of IoT technologies, most executives agreed that new analytics tools and security protocols would be necessary to create actionable insights and ensure the safety of their customers in the process. As IoT is reliant on devices and sensors to collect accurate data, improved sensor accuracy and power consumption is also of great importance. As standardization is a major issue to many respondents, API development should also be considered to connect multiple devices together. The study of human-computer interaction and user experience, which aims to optimize the ways in which humans use technology, is another way to ensure consumers do not shy away from new, potentially groundbreaking technologies, and to further increase the adoption of future IoT ecosystems.
The executives we spoke with are fully invested in growing the Internet of Things and helping humans solve a multitude of problems in their lives and businesses. We’re interested in hearing from other executives, as well as IT professionals, to see if these insights have of fered any real value. Are their experiences and perspectives consistent with yours?
We welcome any and all feedback at email@example.com.
MATT WERNER is a Senior Editor at DZone, who loves learning about new technology, business culture, and organizational behavior management. He’s responsible for sections of DZone’s research guides and editing content in several zones. In his free time, he can be found playing with his black lab or making the walls rumble with a bass guitar.
For more insights on IoT, get your free copy of the new DZone Guide to The Internet of Things, Volume III!