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Debunking 4 Common IoT Misconceptions And The Truths Behind Them

Today, the world is more connected than ever. We can now access the internet from wherever we are. But it's not just people that are connecting. In addition to laptops, phones, and tablets, all manner of devices are connected. This is often with minimal human intervention.

Whether its cameras protecting your property, sensors monitoring manufacturing processes, or smart clothing, there are an increasing number of ways that "things" are connecting with and using the power of the web. All of this change is boosting user experience and improving customer service.

These devices and the infrastructure supporting them are changing the world in which we live. What's more, this development is still in its early stages. Its extent and scope is expanding rapidly and this expansion is likely to accelerate as new technologies and innovations continue to be introduced.

This interconnectivity is known as the "Internet of Things" (IOT); and it presents a vision of the world in which everything is connected.

What is The Internet of Things?

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Across the world, billions of different devices are connected to the internet at once. You may think of your laptop, tablet, or smartphone, but that's far from all we mean.

While the IOT includes all these devices, you should also think on a larger (or even smaller) scale. Cars, trains, aeroplanes, houses, manufacturing units, and management systems have all been successfully integrated into the IOT.

Most physical objects can be connected to the IOT, ranging from voice activated lighting to a smartwatch. In effect, the IOT blends the physical world with the digital, providing instant connectivity. This helps power the advent of new forward-thinking technologies such as driverless cars.

And it is only growing bigger. By the end of 2020, 5.81 billion devices made up the IoT. This is nearly two billion more than in 2018. It is clear that the IoT is building the future.

With the technologies that power the IOT becoming more and more advanced, new and exciting possibilities present themselves. Yet for many, certain misconceptions prevent them from taking full advantage of the IOT.

Here are four common misconceptions and the truths which debunk them:

1.   The IoT is Insecure, Open to Hackers and Privacy Breaches 

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With so much interconnectivity and the transferal of so much data, it's natural that people would be wary of the IOT. Many point to the potential for hackers breaching private networks and stealing users' personal data.

While there's no doubt that there has been some justification for these fears, security has progressed significantly over the years. The IOT is now much more secure than in its earlier days. New security measures include:

  • Technology designed to enhance privacy, including virtual private networks and DNS security extensions. These can be modified to protect data as it travels through the cloud.
  • PKI encryption is designed to secure private messages travelling between two devices. 
  • API security to protect data that travels from IoT devices to back-end systems.
  • The development and introduction of additional security frameworks.

Underpinning this improved security is legislation that can help combat any wrongdoing and act as a disincentive to criminals. There are a variety of different government regulations that require sensitive personal information to be protected.

One example is the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which is designed to protect patient information from being disclosed.

It's true that the IOT still requires some security improvements, but it should by no means be thought of as unsafe. As illustrated above, steps have already been taken to minimize security risks and the pace of these security improvements is likely to grow.

2.   The IoT is Only For Big Companies

The very concept of the IoT can seem daunting to people that are unfamiliar with it. Increasingly, however, the IoT will be for everyone.

Automation touches every part of our lives, whether it's self-checkout or desktop automation software. For users, though, the IoT can be much more than automation, it can augment the things you use daily.

You might connect your car to a smart garage door opener, which could be connected to a smart locking device. This can, in turn, activate your heating and switch on electric lighting. Enhancements like this change our everyday experiences, boosting our comfort and mood.

But what about small businesses that want to provide IoT services? Surely the entry barriers, especially investment costs, will mean the IoT is only for the big companies? Increasingly, however, that's not true. Instead, it's small businesses that are looking to new innovative technologies to stand out against their competition.

One example is businesses using business process as a service. This combines human creativity with AI and automated technology. More and more businesses are now integrating with the cloud to optimize processes.

In fact, many innovations in the IoT are expected to come from small companies. The IoT is another tool that businesses can use to get ahead of the game. The key to this is open platforms.

Across industry, open platforms offer small businesses opportunities that they have never had before. Open hardware architectures, open operating systems and software, and open standards give access to advanced tech to small businesses. If your business doesn't take advantage of open platforms, it should do so quickly, or risk being marginalized.

Of course, small businesses can be users as well as providers of IoT services. There are many areas that can be of benefit to small businesses. Inventory and stock control, shipping trackers, monitoring your supply chain, and mobile card readers are just a few examples. In each of these processes, the IoT is transformational.

3.   Smartphones Are Key to IoT

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One of the biggest misconceptions is that smartphones act as a central part of the IoT. Instead, it relies upon remote processing solutions, networking, and software to manage and run applications. 

There are numerous reasons for this. Take one of the most popular examples of IoT solutions, security applications. It would make little sense for a smartphone to make important security decisions.

A phone can run out of battery, lose signal, or go into airplane mode. Any one of these eventualities could mean the security system going offline. This same problem can apply for those that use the IoT to manage lighting or other automated systems. Smartphones are simply unsuited for managing these kinds of tasks.

That's not to say that smartphones don't have a role to play. They can provide a method for interfacing with applications. Apps can be installed directly on your smartphone so you can monitor and communicate with certain devices.

One example is a smart thermometer used to control the temperature in your property. With an interfacing app on your smartphone, you select a temperature that will then be communicated to the smart thermometer. 

4.   The IoT Has Limited Potential

There is a common misconception that the IoT is just another version of machine-to-machine. With a machine-to-machine system, two devices communicate through different channels, allowing devices to perform actions without any human oversight.

But this system has limitations. It is designed to facilitate a small number of devices running on a network. This means it has little scope for systems that require a large number of devices operating at once.

The IoT encompasses many more features than a simple machine-to-machine system. One big advantage is that it can allow a large number of devices to operate together. The IoT also allows for remote monitoring from mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet, giving a user greater control over different processes.

Many people also underestimate the IoT's potential for transformative change. It's often associated with smart thermometers, lighting, or security systems. While it is true that one purpose is to improve home convenience, the system has potential for much, much more. 

Fewer people know how the IoT is powering other technologies. For example, healthcare monitoring. The IoT is now integrated with wearable tech such as heart rate monitors to provide better reporting.

Elsewhere the IoT is also transforming transportation. If a truck is transporting food supplies that require certain conditions, IoT monitoring can control temperatures to ensure that cargo remains fresh and unaffected by changing conditions. Transportation of goods can even be rerouted due to impending storms or traffic issues.

The fact is, the IoT has many capabilities, it is improving people's lives, and making business processes more effective and more efficient.

Be Part of The Revolution

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In 1989, the president of Interop promised that a new toaster would get prime exhibitor space if it could be brought up on the net. The following year, John Romkey produced a toaster that could be switched on and off over the internet and which is regarded as the world's first IoT device.

Technology has come a very long way since that breakthrough. We have already seen examples of how this technology is changing end-user and business processes. This is especially true when used alongside other automated processes such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

The COVID pandemic has changed the way we shop, and the way business is done. More and more IoT devices manage and control our interactions. We are seeing real-time visibility of supply chains, collapsing of those supply chains, and new data insights emerging.

The IoT has a big presence and is touching us all. Businesses should take advantage of these new technologies to get ahead of the curve.

Its growth will not slow. In ten years' time, the application, and impact, of the IoT will dwarf what we have today. If you haven't already, now is the time to get on board.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tammy Wood - Director of Global Technical SEO

Tammy Wood 

Tammy Wood has been involved with SEO for two decades. Her current role is Director of Technical SEO, for Automation Anywhere, an intelligent automation ecosystem. While not chasing keywords Tammy enjoys reading, buying shoes and writing articles about RPA maturity and SEO. Here is her LinkedIn.

Published Thursday, November 04, 2021 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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