The internet of things has continued to expand at a blistering pace, opening up new opportunities and challenges for businesses looking to implement the technology within their commercial networks. This trend toward IoT synthesis will grow more pressing as the year rolls on, as edge computing, M2M communication and artificial intelligence are already poised to see major improvements during 2019. As IoT installations and procedures become increasingly refined, companies will likely feel less anxious about incorporating the devices into their existing system infrastructure. But what obstacles lie ahead?
In September 2018, the research firm Gartner shared a report that outlined some of the important strategic trends that may affect the IoT over the next five years. While most of the report focused on hard numbers and expected changes to core technologies, Gartner also included several interesting trends that were a bit harder to pin down, like IoT governance and the social, legal and ethical implications of wide-scale deployment. Unlike technical limitations, these more abstract challenges require a great deal of thought on the part of developers, manufacturers and businesses that will put IoT solutions into action.
Social and legal integration
The broad nature of the IoT has enabled it to quickly permeate everything from consumer devices to industrial supply chains. Despite the rapid integration, many experts and end-users are concerned about the social and legal ramifications of full-scale deployment. The general apprehension with improved connectivity can be divided into two broad categories:
1. Concerns about automation: For consumers, the recent innovation within IoT is often lumped into the wider technological advancement of artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud-based networking. These disparate technologies are often woven together to create more dynamic systems, such as the Industry 4.0 workflow models that have started to transform industrial manufacturing. While increased automation may cut production waste and boost efficiency over time, it may also displace human labor to a serious degree. According to a 2017 report from the McKinsey Global Institute, about 60 percent of occupations could have at least one-third of constituent activities automated. Such a transformation could lead to higher unemployment and an increased need for specialized competencies, which would likely require large-scale retraining efforts to address.
2. Privacy and security issues: Since big data analytics hit the scene, consumer data has become a valuable commodity. Marketers use this data to develop personalized ad campaigns and narrow the scope of their advertising efforts. Retailers collect information about online shopping habits to improve their upselling techniques. And media companies sift through viewer info and statistics to learn how they can build their audiences. This ecosystem of data sharing has allowed large companies to refine their business models and increase productivity, but consumers remain concerned about the long-term impact of the practice. A 2014 Pew Research survey discovered that 91 percent of Americans believe that people have lost control over how personal information is collected and used. This belief has grown more persistent over time, in part due to the seemingly constant large-scale data breaches reported to the public.
Increased security demands
As IoT devices have achieved wider circulation, the need for improved security measures has only grown more substantial. The overwhelming number of network security breaches in 2018 has consumers and companies worried about the future of big data, for very different reasons. Customers are more aware than ever that their financial information is regularly passed around from lenders to credit bureaus to credit card companies, whether for credit scoring purposes or loan originations. The personal data transmitted between these organizations (some of them operated by the federal government) is often stored in vulnerable networks that have been illegally accessed by hostile actors in the past. For example, the Federal Trade Commission's report on the 2017 Equifax breach estimates that over 143 million Americans had their sensitive information exposed, yet the consequences are still largely unknown.
To prevent large-scale incidents in the future, companies from every industry have started brainstorming about how they can reinforce their system vulnerabilities, but the question of liability and the associated legal ramifications are still up in the air. The issue is that each new IoT device added to a network creates a potential access point for cybercriminals to exploit. The more devices connected, the more likely it is that an entire system may be compromised. But identity theft is not the only risk, as the data generated from industrial applications is just as valuable as the names, email addresses and phones numbers of consumers. So how can commercial IoT deployments stay one step ahead of unauthorized users?
Perle offers high-performance networking tools that can keep critical infrastructure insulated and secure. Our console servers allow system administrators to uniquely customize their remote access protocols, allowing for a sturdier overall network. Read some of our customer stories to find out how we've helped other forward-thinking organizations take full advantage of IoT technology.