The Internet of Things – Are We There Yet?

The race to IoT is set to reach a climax soon, with only a few hurdles left to overcome before widespread adoption becomes a reality.

"Sherry Zameer - Gemalto"

Sherry Zameer, SVP for Telecommunication Solutions – Gemalto

What do you think of when you hear the term “Internet of Things”? A beatific future in which your fridge will tell you when you’re low on eggs, bread, and veggies, all after wishing you a ‘top of the morning’? Or perhaps a wearable device that can monitor your fitness levels, detect any anomalies, and directly alert your physician should any alarming data crop up, and therefore serve a life-saving function? Or do you see it as an innovative concept, with limitless potential, that won’t see any significant, mass uptake for many, many years to come.

To some extent this way of thinking is understandable: in terms of intelligent machine-based communications, the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is at the start of a potentially long journey. But the pay-off, which ranges from increased convenience to life-saving functions to increased revenues, makes promoting its uptake worthwhile.

In the Middle East and Africa (MEA) specifically, IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is forecasted to drive heavy business growth in the banking, transportation, energy, and public services sectors through smart cities. And as per consultancy firm Deloitte, IoT revenue in the Middle East is set to cross USD 2 billion in 2015, with growth outpacing the global average.

Mounting the hurdles

So what’s been holding the IoT industry back? Well, as per the 2015 IoT Outlook Report, recently released by Telecoms Intelligence, which surveyed 1000 telecom and enterprise technology professionals, all of whom have their fingers firmly on the pulse of the industry, 42.4% of the respondents believe security challenges represent the biggest inhibitor to IoT.

IoT revenue in the Middle East is set to cross USD 2 billion in 2015, with growth outpacing the global average

“We’ve definitely observed that ever since the concept of IoT first surfaced, security concerns have been the biggest hindrance to its widespread acceptance. Basically, to promote uptake, comprehensive security measures have to be injected at every level, be it device hardware and software, network gateway and connectivity protocols, or the WAN, service provider or cloud network,” commented Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President for Telecommunication Solutions at Gemalto. The digital security firm is known for bringing trust and people closer to smarter living environments via secure M2M technology, amongst others.

As per the aforementioned survey, a further 37.2% see platform standardisation issues as the biggest challenge face the IoT industry. Other major challenges include concerns about technology and device immaturity (29%), consumer hesitation and trust (26.7%), and other business priorities (24.4%).

Zameer added: “Another of the biggest short-term problems facing the growth of IoT is compatibility. What would be the point of having a slew of high-tech, useful devices, which are unable to communicate with each other? Therefore, a lot of 2014 was dedicated to the formation of standard development organisations which will work towards creating a standard set of communication protocols.”

Most experts agree that the success of IoT is highly dependent on the development of interoperable global standards. Fortunately, this has prompted intense collaboration between multiple standard developing organisations across territorial levels and industrial