IoT is all about connecting devices and machines to the Internet who can talk to each other, collect and share data, analyze the data, and bring business value out of data analytics. A fair argument is that we have been using sensors and devices to collect and analyze data for a very long time (at least for 2-3 decades), like industrial control systems and SCADA networks. Then why there is so much hype about the Internet of Things as the concept is not entirely new?
This is true! Sensors, networking, data collection, and data analysis has been going on for quite some time. However, what is really new and exciting now is as follows:
- Cost of Building Sensors and Devices – In the past, sensors were very costly and we could use these for limited purposes only due to lack of a good business case. Now the cost of sensors has gone down drastically and it is very easy to build devices to collect data.
- Availability of Wireless and Mobile Technologies like LTE – In the past it was very difficult and costly to connect remote sensors and devices. The networks to connect devices were either not available or had very low bandwidth and high latency. With the availability of new technologies, this situation has changed drastically and networks are available everywhere and at a very low cost.
- Two Way Communications to Make Decisions and Take Actions – In the past typical data collection was one way and in many cases it was not real time. It was difficult to have two-way communication to take actions on data. With the availability of new networks and powerful devices, realtime two-way communication has become a reality and it is making use of IoT more interesting.
- User Interface and Mobile Apps – Many of the IoT technologies of today rely on apps built for mobile devices that provide an easy user interface. That was not the case just few years back.
- Availability of Low Cost, High Bandwidth Networks to Transmit Data – For massive data collections, the overall cost of network to transmit data to data processing centers has gone down. While we did talk about wireless networks earlier, this is more about data transmission in bulk.
- Cloud Based Processing and Storage for Data Analytics – Cloud Computing now provides on-demand machines for processing and storing data which makes scalability achievable. Building infrastructure was an issue in the past.
- Common Business Applications and Use Cases – Many new use cases of IoT technologies have emerged starting from home technologies to smart cities and smart grids, to healthcare and so on.
- Open Source API, Tools, Protocol Standardizations – Open source technologies and standardization of protocols is also playing a role in wider adoption of IoT. Now people can build devices and applications that can work across a wider range of vendors.
These are just some of the reasons why IoT is getting popularity and wider adoption although the concept is not entirely new. Adoption of IPv6 addressing, especially in wireless networks, is also lifting limitation on the number of machines that can be connected to the Internet.
However, before venturing into the IoT bandwagon, it is important that companies work on building their own IoT frameworks that encompass device management, end-to-end data paths, security, encryption, storage, analytics, and use cases.
Building an IoT framework is a key to make IoT initiatives successful and achieve business value.