We have now entered an era with a new virtual revolution, particularly, the Internet of things (IoT). The virtual revolution marks the starting of information age. We use the Internet almost every day. The net has turned out to be one of established ways for us to work together, to share our lives with others, to shop, to teach, to research, and to learn. However the next wave of the Internet isn't about people. it's far about things, honestly?
All about IoT
IoT is defined as the network of physical objects that can be accessed through the Internet. These objects contain embedded various technology to interact with internal states or the external environment.
IoT is characterized as "the figuring frameworks of sensors and actuators associated by systems, where the processing frameworks can screen or deal with the status and actions of connected objects and machines, and the connected sensors can likewise screen the characteristic world, individuals, and creatures." The center of IoT is not just about interfacing things to the Internet. It is about how to generate and use the big data from the things to make new values for individuals, and about how we empower new trades of significant worth between them. In other words, when objects can sense and communicate, IoT has its knowledge to change how and where choices are made, and who makes them, and to pick up a superior esteem, solution or service.
Fundamental to the estimation of IoT is in actuality the Internet of smart things (smart IoT). Supported by intelligent optimization, smart IoT can increase productivity of work and enhance quality of lives for people. Let us take “cities” — the engines of global economic growth — as an example. Smart cities have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of everyone. In intelligent transportation systems (ITS), smart IoT can not only monitor the status of the transportation, but also optimize traffic signal controls to solve traffic congestion and provide the travelers with better routes and appropriate transportation information, etc. Combining IoT and machine learning (ML) can also make our roads safer. Profits by smart IoT have been shown also in health-care, logistics, environment, smart home, in the aspects of better quality, energy conservation, efficiency increase, and so on.
Smart IoT remains in its infancy now in terms of the technology development and the effect on our global economy system and our daily lives. Maximum IoT statistics aren't used presently within the era of big data. Maximum IoT has no intelligence inside the generation of artificial intelligence (AI). IoT which might be used these days are on the whole for anomaly detection and control, as opposed to optimization and prediction. Given the brilliant anticipated increase of the Internet over the following 10 years, it is considered one of vital challenges and possibilities for us to invent and practice in real-global programs on a way to make the IoT smarter to generate the greatest value.
Analytics has taken world by storm & It it the powerhouse for all the digital transformation happening in every industry.
A few weeks ago, when I returned from the MWC and I wrote about “The wandering souls Network”, I wondered if it would not have been better for my career if I had specialized in a very specific area instead of being a generalist. I think there are decisions in our life that in spite every of us can analyse many times, the final decision will be always the same, because each person is the way he is.
“I define myself today as “A Generalist specialized in Internet of Things (IoT)”
Although the rest of this article can possibly be applied to all White Collar professionals, I'm going to focus on how will affect your decision of being an IoT specialist or an IoT generalist in a futuristic world dominate maybe by Robots.
Defining IoT Generalist and IoT Specialist
Before start examining the pros and cons of becoming an IoT generalist or a IoT specialist in this competitive and unfair world, it’s important to understand the distinction of these two approaches and how they relate to our future career path.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s simple definition of a generalist states a generalist is “a person who knows something about a lot of subjects”. A specialist is defined as “a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study”.
An IoT Generalist is a professional that understand a bit of everything. The IoT Generalist can speak about new business models enabled by IoT, the value of ecosystems, all kind of networks connectivity, protocols, sensors, devices, Gateways, Architecture, Cloud Platforms, Edge Analytics or Predictive Maintenance. And of course, he must be up to date of standards and security. Such a professional should be able to present to C-Level but also to maintain an intelligent conversation with different technical people. A value added of an IoT Generalist is his/her social network reputation, industry expertise recognition and strategic relationship with IoT/IIOT vendors, Telcos, Analyst, System Integrators.
Being an IoT generalist also require a skill-set of project management, effective communication and good people skills.
Do you have anyone in mind?
An IoT Specialist is a professional that is a subject matter expert in at least one of the core IoT tracks. Since the IoT is very complex even though we try to simplify it with concepts such as IoT in a Box, an IoT Specialist should offer at least expertise in one of the following 6 distinct tracks:
- IoT Devices (IoT Hardware Engineer or IoT SW Embedded Engineer)
- IoT Connectivity (5G, LTE, NB-IOT, 3GLoRA, SigFox, WiFI, Bluetooth) (IoT Telco Engineer)
- IoT Platforms (IoT Architects)
- IoT Edge/Cloud Analytics (IoT Data Scientists)
- IoT Enterprise Integration (IoT Business Process)
- IoT Development and DevOps. Take a look “IoT Skills For Developers”
Do you have anyone in mind?
But possibly to survive the future era of robots, it may matter little to be an IoT Generalist or Specialist and you will need a mix of a (someone who starts out as a generalist, but also has in-depth knowledge over a particular area) or specializing-generalist (someone who is specialized in a particular field, but also has a broader understanding of other aspects of the business) as Lev Kaye, the founder and CEO of CredSpark, wrote.
Remember that moving between both extremes can be extremely difficult once a career path has been embarked upon, so the mix is always good to have. There is, of course, opportunity to move between general and special IoT roles. But the more experience a professional gain in one area or the other, the more difficult it becomes to make a transition, at least without suffering from a dramatic salary loss.
Advantages and Disadvantages of being an IoT Generalists vs an IoT Specialist
There are benefits and downsides to both career routes. In the following table I have included some upsides and downsides of becoming an IoT generalist versus becoming an IoT specialist.
“The good news is that IoT job market is likely going to require both”
Age does matter - Which path is right for you?
If you are at the start of your career, you are probably pondering which route you should take: IoT Generalist or IoT Specialist
When you start, selling yourself as an IoT generalist could be complicate to justify in a job interview, so will be better become a subject matter expert and then progressively move into a specializing-generalist
My Opinion: If you are under 30 you need to stay on top of your areas of IoT expertise and be willing to move when your expertise becomes a commodity or obsolete. This requires vigilance and the willingness to move with industry trends. You must be aware of disruptive trends in IoT technologies. Take into account that in the future, the IoT Specialists will be also under threat from software and robots.
But if you have already passed the barrier of 45 years and suddenly you want to use your background and experience to sell yourself as an IoT Generalist, remember that you have 6 months to demonstrate your added value (most of the time you will be required for selling) or you will be fired without any leniency.
My Opinion: As an IoT Generalist over 45 you will find harder and harder to get hired. You need to be creative and become at least in spirit an entrepreneur. You must continue creating your own brand and reputation and extending your network with key people in the industry. Opportunities for IoT Generalist will not be forever but they must fight project by project. It would not hurt to start specializing in any of the IoT tracks.
And Enterprise size matters too. What are you looking for?
Governments insist to sell us the importance of entrepreneurs for the well-being and sustainable development of countries and encourage us to create startups. Of course, there is no work for life except for Government employees. And it is known that the big multinationals are rewarded in stock market by the number of employees that are fired out each quarter.
Even so, startups are possibly the only way out for IoT Specialist under 25 or IoT Generalist over 45.
- · If you are an IoT Generalist over 45, find a job in IoT startups will be a chimera, except as Sales roles. Launching your own startup with other partners can be a better option.
- · If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 you can try to convince other colleagues to create a Startup and enter in the dynamic of find investors, win awards and pray for a stroke of luck. If you decide to work in an existing startup to get experience and you are not a Founder or Co-Founder, you must be prepared to be exploited, and then move to a Big company.
SMB (Small and Medium Enterprises)
IoT Generalists add value specially to medium to big international companies. Knowing the details about the complex ecosystem and can handle a vast array of technical concerns is becoming critical for SMBs. There is little need for IoT specialist as there are not enough technical needs in any one specific area to warrant a full-time staff member dedicating themselves to them.
This does not mean that if you are an IoT Specialist you should not try to work for a SMB. Other consideration like industry knowledge, proximity or quality of life will compensate the promises of more money and relevance in Big International companies.
- · IoT Generalist over 45 are typically more valued in smaller organizations. Small organizations typically cannot afford to hire a lot of IoT specialists. You will be more valued in smaller organizations who need their employees to wear a lot of hats. In a SMB the transition to a generalizing-specialist will be natural-
- · If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 and you do not pursue the fame of being a number in a Big international company, you can enjoy more in a SMB because you will have more probability to become more quickly a specializing-generalist.
Big International companies / Top IoT companies
Here we must separate into two types of companies: Top IoT companies including Big IT and OT vendors and End Customers.
There are many lists of Top IoT companies. Almost always these lists include the habitual suspects, and as usual they have notable absences and without forget that the ranks leave much to be desired. But at least such type of list provide the names of companies that either IoT Specialists of IoT Generalists should be searching for a job.
End Customer will need help from both IoT Generalist and IoT Specialist, the question is when and who are them?
- · The desire of an IoT Generalist over 45, that used to work on Big Companies, is return to a Top IoT Company or Big Enterprise. Although it would seem easy, it is by no means a road of roses. You must create your own strong personal brand and be a well-known and influencer of the industry.
- · If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 with experience in startups you will be hunted soon for one of IoT Top vendor. Do not let yourself be blinded by the name of the company, but the project and the future importance of IoT within it.
Looking beyond 2025, the begin of the era of robots
Not because I attend the MWC that specifically caused me to think back on the changes that will occur in the IoT job landscape, it was this conference in addition to the many other IoT events that I attended over the past years that make me think how IoT professionals will be living the strong gravitational rift as we approach to 2025 and beyond.
Unemployment is one of the main problems in today consumer owned society. The unemployment is especially cruel to young people in search of their first job. But also for those who have passed the barrier of 45 (IF $your age is >45 THEN "sorry you are overqualified”).
When I wrote “Your job will be in our special metal hands” I imagined a near future in which companies will use Recruitment Robots to search, identify, select and manage candidates and employees more efficiently. Although it is crucial you follow your heart and your passion when making the decision you should consider the requirements of future employers will be robots.
If today, what matters is knowing a little of everything in the Internet of Things, an IoT Generalist, cross-trained and energetic. Fast forward a few years, and the IoT profession will took a different turn. IoT Specialists must emerge, particularly in larger organizations. IoT Specialist should also be aware of the way IoT jobs will change. Several traditional IoT specialist jobs today will be facing the threat of automatization and will not have an easy time beyond 2025.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When deciding between IoT generalist and IoT specialist career paths, you need to carefully consider the type of person you are. Ultimately, the advantages and disadvantages of either path depend on your personality and drive. If you work hard towards achieving your career goals, you can do so as an IoT specialist and as an IoT generalist and remember you need to be passionate and your attitude will matter today and beyond 2025.
IoT Specialist or IoT Generalist? Choose your own destiny.
Thanks for your Comments and Likes
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that extends digital connectivity to devices and sensors in homes, businesses, vehicles and potentially almost anywhere. This advance enables virtually any device to transmit its data, to which analytics can then be applied to facilitate monitoring and a range of operational functions. IoT can deliver value in several ways. It can provide organizations with more complete data about their operations, which helps them improve efficiencies and so reduce costs. It also can deliver a competitive advantage by enabling them to reduce the elapsed time between an event occurring and operational responses, actions taken or decisions made in response to it.
IoT utilizes what Ventana Research calls operational intelligence, a discipline that has evolved from the capture and analysis of data from instrumentation and machine-to-machine interactions of many types. We define operational intelligence as a set of event-centered information and analysis processes operating across an organization that deliver information to enable effective actions and optimal decisions.
The evolution of operational intelligence and its manifestation in IoT is encouraging companies to revisit their priorities and spending for information and other digital technologies. Ventana Research undertook benchmark research on The Internet of Things to determine the attitudes, requirements and future plans of organizations that use IoT and operational intelligence systems and to identify their best practices. We set out to examine both the commonalities and the qualities specific to major industry sectors and across sizes of organizations. We considered how organizations manage IoT, issues they encounter in the process and how their use of it and related technology is evolving.
While the Internet of Things may still be a novelty to many consumers, organizations participating in our research are well aware of its applications and implications. Four out of five (81%) said IoT is important to their future operations. Majorities said the use of IoT is very important to speed the flow of information and improve the responsiveness of individuals within business processes (61%) and to speed the flow of information to customers or consumers (58%).
The most common uses of IoT are associated with customers (as in sensors on products, by 43%), employees (in wearable technology, 35%) and sensors on devices in the supply chain (31%). At this point, however, more organizations are able to capture IT events (such as a network or system security breach, 59%) than business events (such as a customer contact, 45%). As organizations find more business uses, IoT and operational intelligence will become even more mainstream, and the research indicates that this will occur. Within two years, 95 percent of organizations said they expect to be capturing IT events and 92 percent to be capturing business events.
The research also finds that the intentions of organizations to embrace IoT and use operational intelligence often outpace their current capabilities. For example, many can capture data but face challenges in using it. More than two-thirds (68%) said they are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their organization’s ability to capture and correlate data from events. After that, managing and using it become more complicated. Nearly one-third (31% each) reported difficulties with inadequate data or in managing external data. About half (48%) said they spend the most time reviewing event data for quality and consistency issues, which suggests a lack of standardization across the data sources that are collected.
Furthermore, most organizations are not ready to derive maximum value from IoT. The processes most commonly implemented, each by approximately half of organizations, are performing root-cause analysis, defining measurements and metrics, and monitoring and correlating activities or events. While these processes are necessary, they are only the first step in improving performance. Fewer have advanced to the point of automating processes, which will be necessary to make full use of the coming deluge of IoT data. For example, only about two in five use data from events to trigger automated processes such as predictive maintenance (38%) or automatic assignment of thresholds for alerts (39%).
This research overall finds strong momentum behind the emergence of the Internet of Things, but it also is clear that many organizations have not caught up to the trend. IoT is here, and its impact on business will only increase; almost all companies can benefit from paying attention to it. We encourage you to use this research to help educate and guide your organization through its IoT journey.
How is your organization putting efforts to know your customers in digital age?
First of all, I will explain the reason for the post title. For those who have not seen the films, I summarize: "A group of four illusionists win year after year to the public with their incredible magic shows and even mocking the FBI.
GSMA is a great illusionist and MWC is their principal magic show. We are invited year after year to visit an event with unique keynote speakers, an enormous list of exhibitors, amazing performances and a great LinkedInplace where we can meet in person some of our social media contacts. What else can we ask for?
I know that it is very ruthless to compare the GSMA with illusionists and the MWC as their greatest magic show, but at least I see quite a few reasonable resemblances, you don´t.
My fears and my wishes for MWC17
If in 2015 I wrote " MWC 2015: Everything Connected, Tapas and Jamon", and I argued as one the reasons to attend MWC was the fact it was celebrated in Barcelona. In 2016, in my post “GSMA need to think how to reinvent MWC” I justify the reasons why the MWC needed to reinvent itself.
One thing has become clear to me after many years attending MWCs, this is the world's biggest phone and mobile networks show, with manufacturers set to unveil a raft of new phone handsets and new technology. However, the GSMA had insisted on introducing more and more distractions like Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Living, Connected Car, AR/ VR, Robots. Maybe the reason is because Telecom operators do not have the DNA to change. Still, many telecom operators take a dim view of some of the aggressive moves being made by these peers, especially when it comes to business models based on commercializing customer data.
“I expected to see less hype and a dose of common sense”
Starting by the announcement of Spain’s Telefonica to introduce a broad plan “4th Platform” to help both consumer and business customers keep greater control over their data rather than giving it away to web giants Google, Facebook and Amazon.
“I expected to see more applications where IoT will become a lot less exciting, but more useful and profitable. The real world.”
But I also feel like Scott Bicheno that “Mobile World Congress is disconnected from reality”.
The Top 5 tricks of illusionism this year
5G, Network Slicing and their associated Business Models
5G will undoubtedly be the next big thing in mobile wireless networks. For Niall Norton: fact, fiction, MWC – and strangers dancing in the dark, the most over-hyped technology or trend this year will be 5G in spite he thinks 5G is still miles away and therefore we have to wait for augmented reality, virtual reality, driverless cars and the like. It is a big ask for investors to keep piling money in.
For Phil Laidler, Network slicing is essentially an extension of policy control, virtualisation, NFV and SDN, and their orchestration; the move towards software-centric, flexible end-to-end networks. At MWC this year he is looking forward to seeing more "proof of concepts" for network-slicing and the associated business models, in addition to any insights into how slicing will work in practice.
Nokia’s big 5G announcement on ‘day 0’ of the event was overshadowed by a large consortium of operators and vendors calling for just the ‘new radio’ part of the 5G standard to be accelerated, despite the fact that it will lack the backhaul, cloud infrastructure, software platforms, etc needed to make the 5G dream viable. If anything highlights the wishful-thinking folly of much of the talk at this year’s show it’s that.
IoT has been a hot topic at MWC for the last few years, but, operators do not succeed with new business models beyond managed connectivity. Strategic alliances with IoT vendors has shown no results yet.
The battle between connectivity technologies remains fierce, cellular IoT Chip Battle Escalates at MWC ARM, Sequans and Altair to compete on NB-IoT solutions, but vendors and operators are now looking for more innovative ways to overcome the problem. This might just be the year of Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). Although LoRa and Sigfox are currently dominant in the LPWA market, cellular IoT proponents had steal the show.
For example, Telefonica - who is working on NB-IoT with Huawei - recently announced a global partnership with Sigfox. In addition, Nokia launched its worldwide IoT network grid ('WING') a few weeks ago, which it describes as "a 'one-stop-shop', full service model offering seamless IoT connectivity across technologies and geographical borders."
For Operators, the real value from IoT will be created when they can start combining data sets from different areas and different connectivity technologies. For example, smart cities, healthcare or Food & Beverage, retail, transportation and logistics to improve the cold chain supply management processes.
I hope that at MWC18 we will be looking out for examples of operators and vendors developing IoT use-cases that do just that.
“The Internet of Things is in MWC to stay for a few more years, but If your focus is Internet of Things (IoT) then your money probably will have more ROI in other IoT events”
Blockchain has become one of the latest buzz words in telecoms, IT and IoT , thanks to a rapid increase in start-ups using it for new use-cases beyond its original application in financial services. Despite the excitement around blockchain the technology is still poorly understood by many, so operators need to explore the practical applications of blockchain and investigate whether developing these capabilities would be beneficial and understand what will be their role telcos in this field.
Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots
Not many people in the Operators and in general in the Telco sector can explain what will be the practical potential of AI and machine learning in this sector. Other industry sectors are starting to apply machine learning models to their business. And as the technology and algorithms become more refined, early adopters expect to see huge cost savings. But at what cost?
I expect to see real use cases for AI, machine learning and Robots to make the eternal promise of Customer Experience happen.
Will Telcos someday use machine learning and AI to learn about customer’s habits so that their services and product features can emulate a human behaviour more accurately?. This is a huge opportunity for both vendors and operators.
The wandering souls network
The first time I visited MWC as CEO of OIES, that is to say, as an independent consultant, I feel like a walking dead. Without a clear agenda, without scheduled meetings. I walk through hundreds of exhibitor booths looking for friend’s faces that can spend a couple of minutes to tell them my history.
The Telco sector (Operators, Large Vendors) and the IT sector is being very cruel with employees over 45 years old. This year I have had the opportunity to spend some time with some of ex-colleagues, friends and also LinkedIn contacts that wanted to tell me their history and asked me for advice about the new “El Dorado world of IoT”.
There is a lot of talent out there. Do not exclude this extraordinary wandering network because you believe they are overqualified and you can not manage them.
See you next year at MWC18
I've been saying the same thing for years when I come exhausted from MWC “No more tricks, no more illusions, this has been my last year". But will be this time the real one. Do I need a sabbatical MWC?.
“Whether you passed 1 day, 3 days or a whole week of your life in the MWC17 illusionism, ask yourself: Was it worth it? “
Now you see me or not @MWC18.
Thanks for your Comments and Likes
Big data is the collection of data that is part of our daily lives. It is the hundreds of million e-mails, likes on Facebook, and tweets we post online. It is the hundreds of thousands of photographs that go live on the internet each day. The industry itself is one that is growing at a breakneck pace. In 2013 big data accounted for a $10.2 billion industry, but is estimated to reach an astonishing $54.3 million this year.
Big data does not necessarily focus on the amount of data that is used though. On the contrary, it can refer to what organizations do with this data. It is the analysis of this data, processing information to make more informed decisions, and reviewing trends to make better execute strategic business moves.
The concept behind big data isn’t a new one either. While you’ve likely just started to hear the term, the process of gathering information and storing it has been around for decades. It wasn’t until Doug Laney who is a renowned industry analyst touched on the volume of data, the velocity of data, and the variety of data that we had a vision closer to our modern trend. Expanding on his statement, we also note that there are other essential factors like complexity of data and variability that are a critical part of the analytical process.
In our modern world, the data that is around is always growing. There is currently no end in sight to where this big data will go and we will continue to discover and create new ways to store and analyze the data that is there. Perhaps most surprising is that despite the sheer amount of data that is out there, only a small percentage of it is regularly analyzed. That means that there is still a world of information out there that can be processed and the statistics from it can be used to further propel the understanding of data that is there.
What is important to note is that big data isn’t about the vast amount of data is there. It’s true the numbers are staggering, but there is much more to this. But when someone talks about big data, the focus is on what they can take and pull from the information. It is the analysis of the different aspects of it. This information will allow businesses to determine how information can be better processed so they can reduce their standard operating costs, reduce processing time, and discover new ways to optimize the data that they are collecting. Over a period of time, this will also allow individuals to make better decisions and to avoid failures and other problematic concerns that may be faced along the way.
Big data will remain a pivotal part of the future. It impacts the buying habits of our customers, determining the risk doing business with individuals and companies out there, and avoiding fraud before it happens. All while reviewing data that potentially helps us to further expand our reach and success for years to come.
About Bill McCabe/ Internet of Things Recruiting - Executive Search/ Retained Search for the Internet of Things/ Machine 2 Machine/ Big Data Markets
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It was a matter of time to end up writing an article to talk about the connection between Internet of Things (IoT) and the technology (arguably still in the infancy of its development) that may have the greatest power to transform our world, Blockchain.
In a future planet interconnected not just by devices, but by the events taking place across it, with billions of devices talking to one another in real time, the Internet of Things will require a secure and efficient way to track all interactions, transactions, and activities of every “thing” in the network.
Blockchain’s role could be a coordination layer across devices and the enabler of the IoT to securely facilitate interactions and transactions between devices, and may also support certain processes related to architecture scalability, data sharing, and advancements in encryption and private key technology, enhanced security, and potentially even privacy.
With blockchain, the Achilles’ heel of the IoT of heterogeneous OEM devices world now becomes viable. I wonder however, if is feasible that this decentralized IoT network may co-exist IoT sub-networks or centralized cloud based IoT models.
But let's face it, blockchain is still a nascent and controversial technology (experts estimate that it might take 5 -10 years for the mainstream adoption of blockchain technologies). Therefore, we must consider that blockchain’s applications within the Internet of Things is still a matter of conjecture and trial, and that it will take more time to determine whether and how blockchain might be implemented to secure IoT ecosystems.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain, the technology that constitutes the backbone of the famous bitcoin, is a database that maintains a continuously growing set of data records. It is distributed in nature, meaning that there is no master computer holding the entire chain. Rather, the participating nodes have a copy of the chain. It’s also ever-growing — data records are only added to the chain.
A blockchain consists of two types of elements:
- Transactions are the actions created by the participants in the system.
- Blocks record these transactions and make sure they are in the correct sequence and have not been tampered with. Blocks also record a time stamp when the transactions were added.
If you want to know more about blockchain you can read:
Fascinating opportunities ahead with IoT and Blockchain
The possibilities of IoT are virtually countless, especially when the power of IoT is combined with that of other technologies, such as machine learning. But some major hurdles will surface as billions of smart devices will want to interact among themselves and with their owners.
While these challenges cannot be met with the current models that are supporting IoT communications, tech firms and researchers are hoping to deal with them through blockchain.
Applying the blockchain concept to the world of IoT offers fascinating possibilities. Is yet to be seen if blockchain is bound to expedite the revolution, simply by being the backbone for most of the future IoT systems.
An example - Right from the time a product completes final assembly, it can be registered by the manufacturer into a universal blockchain representing its beginning of life. Once sold, a dealer or end customer can register it to a regional blockchain (a community, city or state). But, this is only the beginning for the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT). A washing machine could become a semi-autonomous device capable of managing its own consumables supply. It can perform self-service and maintenance, and even negotiating with other peer devices.
Challenges of Blockchain and IoT ecosystems
The chaotic growth of IoT will introduce several challenges, including identifying, connecting, securing, and managing so many devices. It will be very challenging for the current infrastructure and architecture underlying the Internet and online services to support huge IoT ecosystems of the future.
Forrester analyst Martha Bennett in the report “Disentangle Hype From Reality: Blockchain’s Potential For IoT Solutions“ defines three categories of challenges that Internet of Things and blockchain ecosystems participants must address: Technology, Operational challenges and Legal and compliance issues.
According with the report, the result of multiple surveys indicates that what the IoT requires more than any technological or architectural advancement is trust: trust between stakeholders and the devices interacting with them, their customers, or on their behalf.
“As technology and commercial firms look for ways to deploy and secure Internet of Things technologies at scale, blockchain has emerged as a clear favorite for managing issues like identity and transaction security”
Blockchain, a strategic ally to Democratize the IoT
The big advantage of blockchain is that it’s public, so there is no single authority that can approve the transactions or set specific rules to have transactions accepted. Thus, the primary utility the blockchain is a censorship resistant way to exchange value without intermediaries.
Will blockchain disrupt the disrupters?. In my post “Is it possible to democratize the Internet of Things? How to avoid that a handful of companies can dominate the IoT” I already suggested the use of blockchain to avoid that data-hungry businesses and governments collect data on the behaviour of people and the performance of objects. Blockchain could avoid that Multinational and governments deepening tracking and control of citizen behaviour and attitudes.
Are IoT Business Models at risks with Blockchain?
IoT Service Providers hope not. There is a risk that the combo of blockchain and the sharing economy trashes some new IoT business models. Same way that, successful or not as successful platform, companies like Uber and Airbnb, are worried today.
Just think, the success of these and some other platform companies is largely due to people trading assets they own and are paid for, but from which new value could be derived, And they release this value by using platforms to match up sellers of the extra capacity – whatever it may be – with buyers. Further, they collect data about transactions “for further commercial gain”.
Indeed, arguably many of new IoT companies’ main line of business will be data, but, what if blockchain enabled buyers and sellers to work peer-to-peer and cut out the middleman/data aggregator and seller? In that case the secure connectivity could be king not the data.
A question for IoT Platform vendors, if we have a secure, foolproof decentralized system, why do I need your IoT Platform if I and all the communities I belong to can do it for ourselves, without anybody collecting, analyzing and selling data about me?
The convergence of Blockchain and the Internet of Things closer
In my post “Will we be able to build the Internet of Things?” I warned about the Babel tower of Alliance & Consortiums in the Internet of Things.
A blockchain technology industry consortium is emerging from the meeting, New Horizons: Blockchain x IoT Summit, with the objective of defining the scope and implementation of a smart contracts protocol layer across several major blockchain systems.
In December 2016, representatives from a group of industry-leading startups and innovative Fortune 500 companies met in Berkeley, CA to discuss the challenges facing blockchain and IoT innovation and the potential for a collective effort to address them. The meeting was the first step towards a collaborative effort to explore and build a shared blockchain-based Internet of Things protocol. Participants in the discussions included blockchain companies Ambisafe, BitSE, Chronicled, ConsenSys, Distributed, Filament, Hashed Health, Ledger, Skuchain, and Slock.it, along with Fortune 500 corporations BNY Mellon, Bosch, Cisco, Gemalto, and Foxconn.
Who is using Blockchain in IoT
The IoT and blockchain combination is already gaining momentum, and is being endorsed by both startups and tech giants. Several companies are already putting blockchain to use to power IoT networks.
Filament, a startup that provides IoT hardware and software for industrial applications such as agriculture, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries. Filament’s wireless sensors, called Taps, create low-power autonomous mesh networks that enable enterprise companies to manage physical mining operations or water flows over agricultural fields without relying on centralized cloud alternatives. Device identification and intercommunication is secured by a bitcoin blockchain that holds the unique identity of each participating node in the network.
Telstra, Australian telecommunication giant Telstra is another company leveraging blockchain technology to secure smart home IoT ecosystems. Cryptographic hashes of device firmware are stored on a private blockchain to minimize verification time and obtain real-time tamper resistance and tamper detection. Since most smart home devices are controlled through mobile apps, Telstra further expands the model and adds user biometric information to the blockchain hashes in order to tie in user identity and prevent compromised mobile devices from taking over the network. This way, the blockchain will be able to verify both the identity of IoT devices and the identity of the people interacting with those devices.
IBM, allows to extend (private) blockchain into cognitive Internet of Things. To illustrate the benefits of blockchain and Internet of Things convergence, IBM gives the example of complex trade lanes and logistics whereby smart contracts can follow (and via blockchain technology register), everything that has happened to individual items and packages. The benefits: audit trails, accountability, new forms of contracts and speed, to name a few.
IBM and Samsung introduced their proof-of-concept system, ADEPT, which uses blockchain to support next-generation IoT ecosystems that will generate hundreds of billions of transactions per day.
Onename are creating the infrastructure for blockchain based identities that can be used for humans and machines. This means the blockchain can act like a phone book that lets machines find each other.
Tierion is being used to collect data from industrial medical devices to build a verifiable record of their usage and maintenance history. Tierion is thrilled to be the first partner to join Philips' Blockchain Lab. Together they are exploring how blockchain technology can be used in healthcare.
ConsenSys working with Innogy (a subsidiary of German utility RWE) are exploring how to enable an energy marketplace fed by distributed solar and other electricity-generating devices, which are run using a decentralized power grid.
21.co, Microsoft, Slock.it, and others are working directly with adopters in manufacturing, supply chain management, energy and utilities, agriculture, and construction; distributed ledgers may further automate, secure, and drive new services for these industries.
Blockchain is not the unique silver bullet for IoT security
Given the importance that Security has to fulfil the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT), I wrote “Do not stop asking for security in IoT” although I did not talk about how blockchain can help secure the Internet of Things. Now with this post, I hope I have corrected that gap.
The existing security technologies will play a role in mitigating IoT risks but they are not enough. Cryptographic algorithms used by blockchain technologies could perhaps be a silver bullet needed by the IoT industry to create a more resilient ecosystem for devices to run on and to make consumer data more private. But blockchain should not be viewed as the unique silver bullet to all IoT security issues considering that today’s blockchain space is even more nascent than the IoT.
Manufacturers, legislators, IoT hardware and software vendors, IoT Service Providers, System Integrators, analyst, and end users, must be aware of the IoT security challenges and focus on increase security efforts to reduce the risk inherent to the fragmented Internet of Things so among all we can accelerate adoption.
In the long term, we should keep dreaming in a fully decentralized and secure IoT using a standardized secure communication model. We must trust this dream will be possible, if worldwide, engineering talent, startups, large companies, and governments increase the investment in time, energy, and money to innovate in solutions that address the IoT’s and blockchain’s shared problems.
The Internet of Things is slated to be one of the most disruptive technologies we’ve ever seen. It’s going to change a great deal - including how we look at and use the cloud.
Software-defined cars. Internet-connected ‘smart’ fridges, coffee machines, and televisions. Wearable technology like smartwatches and smartglasses. The Internet of Things is going to change everything from how we work to how we drive to how we live our lives. And as it does so, it’s also going to change the cloud.
It already is, actually.
Enter fog computing. It’s an extension of the cloud, born out of the fact that there are more Internet-connected devices in the world than ever before (by 2020, Gartner predicts that there will be 6.4 billion.) Given this influx, the traditional, centralized model of the cloud is no longer viable.
“Today, there might be hundreds of connected devices in an office or data center,” writes Ahmed Banafa of Thoughts On Cloud. “In just a few years, that number could explode to thousands or tens of thousands, all connected and communicating. Most of the buzz around fog has a direct correlation with IoT. The fact that everything from cars to thermostats are gaining web intelligence means that direct user-end computing and communication may soon be more important than ever.”
It makes a lot more sense to move the real computing and processing closer to client devices. To carry out analysis at the network’s edge. See, the thing about the Internet of Things is that it depends on managing data over very short timeframes. Even a slight delay introduced as a result of bandwidth is unacceptable.
Consider the following examples:
A self-driving car is communicating with the vehicles and traffic infrastructure around it, and analyzing traffic and weather conditions. While it may communicate with a central server, it needs to be able to analyze and aggregate data immediately, lest it cause an accident.
Autonomous tunneling and boring machines at a mining site ensure workers don’t have to subject themselves to hazardous underground conditions. These machines must be capable of analyzing and storing terabytes of data, as network connectivity hundreds of feet underground is near-impossible. They also must be able to communicate with other mining infrastructure, as well as a central server, uploading processed data to the cloud when mining is finished.
Sensors at an oil well must connect to a cloud server to provide headquarters with a real-time vision of the facility. These sensors, however, must be capable of analyzing data on-site before it is uploaded.
In each of the examples above, distributed computing works together with a more traditional cloud model to better-enable connected equipment and sensors. And that’s where the cloud slots in with IoT. It’s still the cloud - but it’s changed in order to adapt to new workflows, business processes, and an entirely new world.
“With the increase in data and cloud services utilization, fog computing will play a key role in helping reduce latency and improve the user experience” writes Data Center Knowledge’s Bill Kleyman. “We are now truly distributing the data plane and pushing advanced services to the edge. By doing so, administrators are able to bring rich content to the user faster, more efficiently, and - very importantly - more economically.”
Photo credit: Mr. & Mrs. Gray
About the Author:
Tim Mullahy is the General Manager at Liberty Center One. Liberty Center One is a new breed of data center located in Royal Oak, MI. Liberty can host any customer solution regardless of space, power, or networking/bandwidth requirements.
The IoT market has changed in many ways throughout the years, and since it’s a growing industry, there’s an estimated 32.6% CAGR increase in the next five years.
As an industry predicted to spend trillions in solutions, IoT’s trends need to be carefully observed and examined in order for implications and applications to be future-proofed.
How do you go about doing this? By simply analyzing how IoT is being used, as well as identifying which sectors are showing potential growth. Right now, a lot of focus is given to consumer applications such as Amazon’s dash buttons and smart home appliances. However, there are many opportunities in remote IoT. This covers industries like industrial, transportation, healthcare, etc.
One challenge that needs to be dealt with is how connectivity is approached right now. As more IoT and M2M devices would be deployed in rural areas and places with limited connectivity, applications and machines would need an improved infrastructure in order to carry out their purpose in areas with little connectivity.
Additionally, the increase of transportation and emergency-related applications would require not only ways to deals with low connectivity but also call for a system that can access multiple networks depending on availability and location.
Another challenge is how current devices will handle the developments in IoT and M2M technologies in the next five years. The 2G sunset is just one-way communication companies are affecting the industry.
Don’t fret, though, as there are several ways to resolve this and many opportunities left to explore to get ready for IoT’s evolution in the coming years.
Want to learn more about the possibilities remote IoT connectivity presents and how you can prepare for them? Check out the following infographic from Communications Solutions Company, Podsystem, and start future-proofing your IoT and M2M applications.
- Freemium model : Basic products/services are provided free but users are charged for advance features. E.g. Coursera, LinkedIn, Spotify, Dropbox, Skype
- Pay as you go or Subscription Model : Pay only for services which are used. E.g. Netflix, Kindle, New York Times, Safari Books online
- Customer experience model : provide the customer experience never before e.g. Tesla, Disney Land, Apple
- On-Demand model : provide customer service on demand with speed. E.g. Uber, cloud services from Amazon, Microsoft
- Marketplace model : provide a platform for buyer and seller interact with each other directly e.g. ebay, Alibaba
- Free model : provide the typical services to users free and sell their behavior data to different businesses e.g. Google, Facebook, Patientslikeme
- Crowd-sourcing model : receive money for engaging crowd for common goal, innovation, problem solving. E.g. Kaggle, CrowdAnalytix
- Bundling model : selling similar products or services together. E.g. Microsoft Office
- Gamification model : use of game like feature to simplify the interaction. E.g Mint.com, Khan Academy, Nike +
Was this all available to us 20 years before? Ali Baba’s “Open Sesame” was a story of childhood, but Digital Transformation is reality – and from now on nothing will be same again.
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