The Internet of Things (IoT) is a rapidly evolving technology sector. As the popularity of connected devices increases with consumers, the number of entrants into the market grows. But rapid growth and iteration have had some unintended consequences in the IoT space, especially when it comes to usability.
Analytics firm IDC projects that by 2020, all industries will have rolled out an IoT program to help garner more data. IDC also predicts 30 billion smart devices will be collecting information by that same year. With so many devices on the market, it’s no wonder that integrating these various data sets could well be a not-insignificant issue.
The good news is a growing number of entrepreneurs have decided to tackle this problem by creating solutions that make it easier for devices to talk to one another. Rabih Nassar, founder and CEO of IoT solutions firm Scriptr, shared how integrated IoT programs can address this problem.
“We enable the orchestration of APIs from different IoT platforms and the creation of user experiences on top of the newly consolidated APIs through business logic, security and policies," Nassar said. "For instance, if you're a smart-building tenant, you can have a single app that controls your thermostats, lighting, heating/AC, blinds, building gates and garage doors -- even though those services are actually being provided from a variety of incompatible physical and device-management and connectivity platforms.”
By connecting smart devices that otherwise would not operate together, entrepreneurs are making tech more user-friendly for people without a substantial IoT background.
Building integrated platforms.
Talk to anyone in the IoT space, and the conversation inevitably turns to the platform on which devices operate. It makes good sense: Devices with the potential to connect can do very little without software applications that make them usable. Unfortunately, there's been little development toward platforms that help devices with varied functions work together.
Nassar explains why: “In situations in which standardized applications do not exist, companies need an IoT application platform that is agile and can offer carrier-class, enterprise-level solutions that they are used to.”
These developments are crucial before IoT can go mainstream in more industrial settings. Many of the current IoT creations are exciting, but their incompatibility with larger platforms means they tend to be seen as gimmicks. Consider smart lightbulbs, a fun technology for the home. To control output based on energy usage, they must connect to a device that monitors function and adapts settings. Otherwise, these lightbulbs become more of conversation pieces than true tools. Creating integrated platforms increases devices' usefulness.
The software space is a major problem for IoT when it comes to matters of practicality. Consumers with more than one IoT product -- such as a Nest thermostat and a connected refrigerator -- need multiple apps to manage their various devices. This naturally becomes a pain point, but there's good news: Programmers are designing new programs to help solve the problem.
IoT startups are making IoT solutions scalable for larger organizations by consolidating these tools into singular app interfaces. Technology's entire purpose is to make life easier, so decreasing the number of apps needed will be a critical step to help speed IoT adoption by the masses. Any company that can create this type of consolidation tool is poised to make significant gains as the industry grows.
Developing an ecosystem of partnerships.
Despite the challenges involved with developing new technology, the IoT community has been successful at forming strategic partnerships to help leverage one another’s strengths and advance solutions more quickly. That spirit of partnership is on the rise as more businesses consider IoT a critical component of success. By bridging technologies that otherwise would not work together, IoT providers model the kind of partnership that's needed to drive greater adoption.
The private space industry has benefited greatly from similar collaborations. Companies such as Boeing, Lockheed, Orbital ATK and SpaceX share knowledge and other resources to help reach common goals. The pace of innovation in the IoT sector will increase rapidly in coming years if market leaders work together in a similar fashion.
"As demand for IoT technologies grows, entrepreneurs considering IoT solutions should look for ones that might help them achieve a competitive advantage,” Nassar says. “They should also assess their own competencies when rolling out IoT devices and find partners who help fill in the gaps in experience to prevent any bottlenecks or project delays.”