A decade ago the popularity of the IoT concept provoked high expectations about the future development of the industry and large-scale technology embeddedness in our lives. Strategists and analysts forecasted that the IoT market share would reach 8.9 trillion USD and would comprise 50 billion deployed connected devices by 2020. Now it is clear that predictions have failed to reflect reality. The insights of technology enthusiasts and industry futurists seemed to be too optimistic and overlooked the challenges that could slow down the growth of the sector. Therefore, in the frame of the September IoT North event, the insights were shared about firms' strategic choices, positioning in the value chain, IoT implementation, technology fragmentation, infrastructure life-cycle and other factors that have affected the present and might affect the future of IoT. The webinar had talks from Matt Hatton, founding partner at Transforma Insights (www.transformainsights.com) and Adrian Firth, an IoT Solutions Architect at Telefonica (www.telefonica.com). Matt shared the challenges that have been holding back IoT over the last 10 years. Adrian Firth discussed potential problems that 2G/3G "sunsets" pose for IoT. The webinar was co-hosted, as usual, by Pitch-In Project and was sponsored by Newcastle University and www.goto50.ai.
Matt Hatton has over 20 years of experience at the cutting edge of technology research and consulting. According to Matt, now we are probably on the cusp of a third IoT winter, which started in 2015 following rapid technological development. The current situation in the IoT industry shows that not only the quantity but also the quality of the technology was not as good as initially promised. Broadly speaking, the held-back development of IoT is rooted in venturing decisions, an organisational strategy, infrastructural and regulatory issues. Specifically, the first reason is that companies invest in products that have relatively little customer value and less sophisticated technologies focusing on monitoring and efficiency. Most IoT projects target quick to deploy and payback, with the impact on internal processes, rather than the external value proposition and barely on industry disruption. Second, the companies do not have sufficient experience for the successful implementation of technology and the assessment of all commercial and operational intricacies. Thirdly, there are technical challenges concerning security, which has been one of the most critical challenges ever since the emergence of IoT. Also, infrastructural complexity hinders the connectivity of devices. Finally, vendors’ hubris drives companies to plunge into the IoT development without evaluating resources and capabilities, device components, network connectivity, software and platforms and the service provision side of things. Instead, vendors need to focus on the value chain, look for gaps, address security issues depending on long-term customer service and support. From the adopters’ side, the development of IoT depends on the speed of adoption, careful assessment of operational and commercial aspects, change management (i.e. the change of business processes, business models, finance, people, partners, systems and culture) and integrated IT and managerial effort to oversee IoT implementation.
Adrian Firth has expertise in protocols, architecture and security functions. He is focused on designing, securing and troubleshooting complex end-to-end solutions across multi-protocol mixed-vendor estates. Adrian shared his expert opinion about what could happen after the disappearance of 2G and 3G and what this will mean for the IoT. It was announced that the lifecycle of 2G and 3G has ended, which will lead to the decline in the 2G penetration up to 10 % by 2025. Even though the majority of developers use 2G for IoT connectivity due to its advantages (e.g. low cost, low power consumption, and stable, mature standards), the operators started to shut down 2G and 3G by stripping out the capacity of the cellular network (i.e the capability to carry useful traffic). Such a process is termed refarming. Irrespective of the approach used to refarm, be it the complete removal of capacity, the partial removal of capacity or migration from 2G/3G core to 4G, ultimately it will contribute to infrastructural changes. Such changes will degrade services and pose challenges for IoT ubiquity. There will be significant economic, environmental, societal, security/privacy/safety and regulatory implications, concerning the rollout and recovery of devices, old equipment utilisation, the change of business models and legal frameworks. Given the significance of the implications, it is important to consider the lifecycle of technologies, the turnaround time, as well as the lifecycle of individual components. Organisations can use techniques such as risk management, scenario planning and information security practices to evaluate opportunities and costs, make informed decisions and predictions to reduce uncertainty.