A few years ago, implementing an IoT solution was like solving a puzzle. You needed to find matching parts from different suppliers and assemble them into a working solution. What sounds simple needed extensive know-how in software development, hardware design, network communication, and system integration. Today most vendors offer complete solutions from a single source, and installation is almost plug and play. Making things talk has never been easier for customers.
With the “Cloud of Things” Deutsche Telekom, for example, offers a “Swiss army knife” for the Internet of Things. The platform helps companies like the German forklift truck manufacturer Hubtex to easily connect its machines to the cloud and ensures that it can manage its machines from anywhere at any time. The platform also solves another problem. It converts specific device information and measurements into a cross-device format, thus providing a common understanding for the connected devices – among themselves and with the customer’s IT. A few years ago that was only possible within closed, proprietary ecosystems.
Entry at moderate cost
Contrary to what you might expect, it isn’t too expensive. Fees charged for the Cloud of Things, for example, are based on the number of connected devices. You can book extra resources flexibly as required at any given time. Furthermore, the prices of modules, sensors and actuators have fallen significantly. Coming from this base you can launch a pilot project without major investment and grow it to an entirely connected enterprise.
While entry to the Internet of Things has become easier for customers, the situation for suppliers of complete solutions has become more complex. The range of components has practically exploded in recent years. In some cases this rapid development has filled important gaps as, for example, in the case of Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT). This innovative cellular technology comes into play where conventional access networks are uneconomical or simply do not meet the requirements of the application. It is particularly suitable for applications that require low power, low cost devices with wide area coverage and deep indoor penetration. It enables vendors to meet the exact demands of their customers.
But challenges still lie ahead. From a technical viewpoint the lack of standardization and interoperability is still an unnecessary barrier within the Internet of Things. News headlines about hacked IoT devices, surveillance concerns and privacy fears are increasingly alarming the general public and discouraging those who would like to start implementing the IoT in their businesses. At the same time there is a lack of legal and regulatory frameworks.
Of course this is only a small part of development over the past few years. But since it’s IoT Day we are not only aiming to share our point of view but are also interested in your thoughts. What is much simpler now than it was a few years ago? Where do we need to reduce complexity? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.