Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
5/27/2014
11:36 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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Internet Of Things: In Search Of An Architecture

The IoT vision still doesn't have a clear architecture from which to build meaningful business applications, an MIT professor says.

8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
8 Gadgets For The High-Tech Home
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

A variety of factors are holding companies back from embracing the Internet of Things. Though Gartner predicts there will be 26 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2020, concerns about data ownership, questionable data quality, inadequate network coverage, and integration with business applications are among the IoT roadblocks.

The biggest IoT challenge, according to Professor Sanjay Sarma of MIT, is the lack of an overarching architecture to pull together myriad streams of IoT information into a flexible and responsive ecosystem of applications.

Sarma was among the participants on an IoT panel at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium on May 21 in Cambridge, Mass. He voiced concern about what he sees as a wide array of IoT point solutions designed to accomplish very specific tasks -- irrigate crops, turn the lights on in your home -- without an architecture to connect all that data in a meaningful way.

"Without connecting the dots, you'll have a disastrous, brittle system," Sarma said. "We don't have a clear architecture of where the world will go."

[Cisco says it's "all in" on the Internet of Everything -- but what does that mean? Read Cisco IoE: When Will Its Time Come?]

Using a consumer example -- the concept of the connected home -- Sarma elaborated on the challenges. "Let's say you want to change the experience when you walk into your home. The lights will come on, music will play, temperature will be set. Maybe Google Maps informs the house that you're near, and then a series of actions have to happen to anticipate your arrival." It all seems great, but what if it's not you walking into the house, but your spouse, who dislikes bright lighting, hates your music, and wants it to be cooler? Your spouse now has to change everything, making life more difficult than before.

Another panelist, Chris Kuntz, senior director of business development with ThingWorx, related that home scenario to business. "People understand it's not just about connecting your product, connecting your smart thing, collecting that data," Kuntz said. "It's about how do you connect it with a business process to effect some sort of change."

During the IoT session, panelist Dieter Haban, CIO of Daimler Trucks North America, described how the company has placed sensors in all its trucks sold in North America for the past two years. The goal, Haban said, is to maximize uptime for the vehicles and their drivers.

The sensors send information to Daimler Trucks' call center, where a customer service team notifies the relevant trucking company about a pending maintenance problem

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Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
6/2/2014 | 2:45:31 AM
Re: Design is very important
yes, with internet of things we gonna see this technology develops more and more... coming to our homes for everyday use...
Pablo Valerio
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Pablo Valerio,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/29/2014 | 11:22:17 AM
Design is very important
Susan,

Paul Walborsky, CEO of Gigaom, gave a keynote speech this morning in the Barcelona Digital Global Congress. He was mainly talking about IoT and sensors and one of the things I remember most about his talk is when he said that Google paid that much money for Nest because of their design.

I do agree with that assesment. While the lack of clear standards is one the important barriers for the mass adoption of IoT, a clear and simple design is important for people's adoption.

The same way that people like some products, such as the iPhone, because it is powerful but also easy to use, we need the same concept on wearables and other home devices.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
5/29/2014 | 3:51:53 AM
Re: The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
SusanN, :D  

I was precisely thinking of The Jetsons when reading your article. :) 

" ... the system of systems that runs our lives will automatically know our tastes and desires based on analysis of various data about us." 

Well, I don't consider myself lazy, but as the available time when I am awake is so limited and I can't sleep less than what I sleep I have to prioritize how to use my time. This means that programming things is rarely a top priority. Maybe it should be? :/ 

So, for this reason, having a system of systems running my life and programming everything for me sounds like heaven. :D Think of this: 

You program only one thing: The device that wakes you up, or, in my case, the time when you want to start your day. When that device goes off it tells your coffee or tea maker to start. There is a kitchen AI making your beakfast, your shower starts so when you step into it it's all nice and warm, etc. So, your day flows beautifully and you can spend your time doing what no one -yet- can do for your: Your brain work, your creations, your research, your writing. :)

Of course, all this brings us to see the importance of ethical and efficent data collection, good use and analysis of that data, and its useful applications in both consumer and enterprise worlds.

As for the best drummer discussion, probably the one who is right is the one who thinks Ringo Star was. :D 

"I'm disappointed we're not farther along than we already are on the consumer front--I remember hearing about all these great ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show many many moons ago ... " 

Indeed. I am disappointed, too. I want to experience all the wonderful technology we are discussing in my life time.

Oops. Sorry for the long comment. This article was really inspiring and I love all the discussing around the IoT. :) 

I do hope that near(ish) future is soon enough. 

-Susan 

 

 
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2014 | 7:30:43 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@Startustician: And those security concerns become even more frightening on a broader scale. Imagine IoT being used for SCADA to control, say, a nucelar power plant or the electric grid. The havoc could be catastrophic without security standars in place. And, even with security standards, as we've seen in other recent cases, there's always a way to crack it.

As exciting as the IoT future is in terms of possibilities, it is downright scary when you consider how  much more vulnerable these devices will make us all.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2014 | 7:27:16 PM
Re: The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
@susanF: and off we go into the future that even the creators of The Jetsons could not have imagined.

As far as the consumer example goes, I think Sarna's point was that at some stage we'll get to where we don't have to even program any of those things, the system of systems that runs our lives will automatically know our tastes and desires based on analysis of various data about us. That, to me is the holy grail. I'm lazy, I don't want to program anything.

:)

As for taste in music being a test of a strong marriage, heh heh. My husband and I fight about music all the time, but it's usually along the lines of which 60s rock band had the best drummer.


The software updating needs are going to increase exponentially as we move along the IoT path. Frankly, I'm disappointed we're not farther along than we already are on the consumer front--I remember hearing about all these great ideas at the Consumer Electronics Show many many moons ago and it seems only now that we're getting to the point where we can talk about this as being commonplace in the near(ish) future.
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
5/28/2014 | 10:58:18 AM
Re: The Road to a Standard
One of the biggest issues I see with IoT is that the security protocols are still not in place.  So as these devices talk to each other, there is no way to ensure that the data that is being shared between devices is secured.  The threat of malware or devices which can listen in on these transmissions means that these feeds can be used to notify them of environmental triggers such as in the article, should you be returning home, instead of just notifying your home that you want the lights and music on, a home invader could use the information to understand your traffic patterns, or to give them notification to flee the house.  Before these devices can be built, security must be standardized to ensure that transmission between IoT is secure and able to be controlled so only data you wish to transmit to certain devices is transmitted.  This will only come if the actual platform is standardized.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
5/28/2014 | 8:11:28 AM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@snuyc yes. In fact, some of the biggest innovations in technology we hear about don't even originate in the US.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
5/28/2014 | 7:49:53 AM
The IoST (Internet of Shared Things)
Susan, 

Interesting article. It let me thinking about a couple of things, for instance, the consumer example on the concept of the connected home. 

According to Sarma: "Let's say you want to change the experience when you walk into your home. The lights will come on, music will play, temperature will be set. Maybe Google Maps informs the house that you're near, and then a series of actions have to happen to anticipate your arrival."

And you said: "It all seems great, but what if it's not you walking into the house, but your spouse, who dislikes bright lighting, hates your music, and wants it to be cooler? Your spouse now has to change everything, making life more difficult than before." 

Sarma's example sounds pretty much to what one would expect to be quite normal in about five years' time. Maybe less. By quite normal I mean enough people living in this kind of smart hourse. 

Most likely Google knows the difference between you walking into the house and your spouse walking into the house. This means that there can't be any confusion about what music to play, what lights to switch on, or what temperature to set. 

As everything is programable it could be a good idea to have some shared options in case both walk into the house about the same time. 

Now, if your spouse hates your music, and likes all the opposite to what you like, how did you get married in the first place to someone who makes your life difficult because you don't share a thing and can't even agree on the setting of your shared smart house? :D (hypotetical situation) Now you see my point? :) 

I believe the IoT are here to stay. We have been discussing the IoT for years now. Some people will be more relunctant to accept it, as it always happens with every new thing that comes out in technology. 

Smart houses, smart cars, smart shopping malls, smart everything is what we will be experiencing soon. 

The cloud of things sounds pretty cool as well. As for having to update all the software, etc. very often, isn't that what we are doing now anyway? Technology is a snow ball that is only getting bigger and bigger and it's non-stoppable. :) 

I think that event and panel were pretty interesting. Thanks for bringing it here for the rest of us.  

-Susan
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/27/2014 | 11:57:31 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@Ariella: it's unfrotunate, the military at one time was a major source of funding for engineering breakthroughs. Now that has fallen squarely on the shoulders of private industry.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
5/27/2014 | 11:55:49 PM
Re: The Road to a Standard
@Gary_EL: You're right, these days standards are decided based on which format wins the hearts and minds of consumers, not necessarily what is the best technology. Things that DO have pre-determined standards (the CD, WiFi) are now the exception rather than the rule.

While on the one hand this invites more opportunity for all players, on the other it does delay the ability for complex efforts, such as IoT, to really achieve their full potential. WE have only to look at the rapid advances made by cellular technology in countries that had a government standard, compared with the relatively slower growth in a country like the U.S. where there were multiple competing standards on the open market.

 
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