Connected devices of all kinds, bundled under the umbrella of the Internet of Things, are being positioned in the technology and business media as the next great area of growth in the global economy.
These predictions precede the start of the century under the industry’s previous label of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. There are many reasons that the past M2M hockey stick growth curves haven't been realized and some of these reasons are still prevalent in the current age of the IoT. Unfortunately, many of the parties driving the hype around the IoT were not active participants in the M2M era and as such, risk having to re-learn some of the lessons related to the challenges in realizing the forecasted market growth.
A few of the more obvious challenges are related to:
- Business cases and market desirability. An example would be a connected egg holder for your refrigerator so that you can check to see if you need eggs while you're in the grocery store. Just because you can connect it, doesn't mean that there’s reason enough to actually do it.
- Security. Any connected device is at risk of being hacked, and even if the risk to the owner is low (a hacker knowing how many eggs you have), the device could be turned in to a zombie agent in a denial-of-service (DoS) attack. This is because most M2M and IoT devices have very tight business cases requiring the device's cost to be as low as possible. This leads to design and component choices that meet the device's functional needs at the lowest possible cost, even if that means a lack of processing power to support features like encryption or active application key management.
- Lack of a standardized embedded connectivity architecture for IoT devices. The lack of standards to support mass deployment of enabling technology, diagnostic tools, and scalability of addressable markets has consistently added cost and complexity throughout the IoT value chain. Most services and embedded technology related to the IoT are horizontal and can be reused across vertical segments. This situation should lead to reduced costs and benefit the design and business scalability across the entire IoT realm. However, the lack of standards, whether official or de facto, impeded efficiencies for reducing costs and rapid innovation that would lead to accelerated growth across vertical segments.
Standards on the device-side are very difficult, if not impossible to establish and implement because different vertical segments have different technology and business drivers. However, every IoT device that is connected to the mobile network has one embedded component that is based on a global standard; the SIM. The SIM is a secure processor requiring network authentication for app access, providing increased security. Embedded in the device as an extension of the mobile network, SIMs conform to a global standard. Embedded apps on SIMs are updated via a secure, globally standard Over-the-Air (OTA) method.
The world's mobile network operators (MNOs) are rapidly seeking to add value and to take a leadership positon in the IoT value chain. In pursuing this, they are assembling ecosystems and sourcing proprietary enabling technology and tools across the solution building blocks ranging from platforms and services to embedded hardware and software. MNOs need to realize that by unleashing the power of a standard SIM, they can provide industry and enterprises with services that address the needs of successful IoT projects -- without changing the deployment of their existing standard network elements. The MNO is then positioned higher in the value chain, while easing the deployment of IoT services for all types of vertical IoT applications on the mobile network.
The establishment of a standardized embedded architecture around the SIM that is able to host and execute the IoT application will lead to a secure applications space accessible via a globally secure standard OTA method. This creates the opportunity to transform the IoT application business model by facilitating an MNO-controlled IoT app store. This can be accomplished by device makers publishing hardware specifications with I/O addresses so that multiple parties can develop apps and services for the device. The end user can choose the embedded app and service provider and securely download the chosen app to the device's embedded SIM via OTA.
The SIM, this one powerful, tiny, standard component in all IoT devices connected to the mobile network, is the ideal location for mass deployment of standardized enabling and diagnostic tools across all vertical segments. The utilization of standard mobile network elements to address IoT challenges experienced by enterprise adopters, and the ability to create new business models such as IoT app stores, positions the MNO as a high-value IoT services provider.
— Roger Dewey, CEO & Founder, Able Device
This is a sponsored article from Able Device, specialists in SIM-based tools for managing IoT applications and device communications.
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