Internet Of Things 'Overhyped,' Say IT Execs - InformationWeek

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Data Management // Big Data Analytics

Internet Of Things 'Overhyped,' Say IT Execs

IT executives expect the IoT to impact their businesses, although they're not sure how, finds CompTIA survey.

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The terms "big data" and "Internet of Things" have a lot in common. Both represent significant technological trends involving the collection, storage, and analysis of vast sums of digital information. Both have been hyped to the max and usurped by marketers. And both have left many a businessperson -- even tech sophisticates like IT executives -- scratching their heads and wondering what these latest buzzwords are all about.

In that context, perhaps the findings from a recent survey of IT executives by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), an IT trade group, aren't too surprising. The report, "Sizing Up the Internet of Things," found that IT execs believe the Internet of Things (IoT) will help their business in a to-be-determined fashion, but they're not really doing much to prepare for it.

CompTIA's online survey was conducted in July 2014. Nearly 300 US IT companies participated, ranging from small shops to Fortune 500 firms.

"Overall, IT industry executives are nearly evenly split on their view of IoT hype," the report stated. Specifically, 51% of respondents believe IoT opportunities justify the hoopla, while 48% "see more hype than substance at this point in time."

[What IoT technologies can improve your business? See Rise Of Things: IoT's Role In Business Processes.]

The survey also found that only 8% of IT execs have explored potential IoT product offerings. That's surprisingly low when you consider that major tech analysts, including Gartner and IDC, predict the IoT will be a several trillion dollar industry within a decade.

This hesitation may be due, in part, to the lack of standards in the Internet of Things ecosystem, where countless numbers of data-sharing sensors, devices, and software must communicate seamlessly. But as of September 2014, four major organizations -- AllSeen Alliance, Open Interconnect Consortium, Thread, and Industrial Internet Consortium -- were developing standards for the IoT.

"I think this is going to look a lot like the Internet when it got started," said Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis at CompTIA, in a phone interview with InformationWeek. "The Internet required certain protocols to become commonly used ... and to really be of benefit."

(Source: CompTIA)
(Source: CompTIA)

Today's IoT, however, is more like the Tower of Babel. Consider the consumer market: As people experiment with smart homes, they assume the responsibility of getting various devices to communicate not only with their smartphones but also with each other, including hardware from different manufacturers.

"It's difficult to get everything to talk to each other, and there are a lot of competing standards out there right now," said Robinson, who expects that market forces, not government regulation, will determine which IoT standards contender will "win out in the end."

IoT privacy is one area where government regulation will likely play a major role, however.

"Privacy is definitely a problem that we haven't solved yet. It's related to IT security, which is another one we haven't solved," Robinson said. "It's a very complicated matter, one I don't see resolving itself in the near future."

Privacy restrictions also may impact the prices of IoT devices, particularly if vendors are prohibited from selling consumer data they acquire from sensors and related IoT products.

"Privacy, when it comes to computing and connected devices, is very difficult to sort out," said Robinson. "So many people enjoy services at a very low price point, and I don't think they've fully realized that the low price point is there because of the data they're willing to share."

IoT vendors will need to be reasonably transparent, telling the public what data they're collecting and how they're using it. If this doesn't happen, "we're probably going to need some kind of regulations to help establish boundaries for this space," said Robinson.

How cloud, virtualization, mobility, and other network-altering trends impact security -- and the IT pros responsible for infrastructure protection. Get the Network Security Career Guide issue of Network Computing today.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2014 | 12:50:59 PM
reality is behind
Internet of Things (IoT) will help their business in a to-be-determined fashion, but they're not really doing much to prepare for it.

Understood. I'm still coaching clients on the value of social media. The reality of technology is way behind what the media reports.
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2014 | 12:57:11 PM
syncing
"It's difficult to get everything to talk to each other, and there are a lot of competing standards out there right now"

Yes! People still use multiple remotes for TV, cable, stereo, etc. even though multi-tasking remotes were introduced decades ago. Now, there are thousands of models of phones. How will all the machines talk to each other? The API's will be interesting.
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/17/2014 | 1:22:35 PM
Chickens, Meet Roost
The utter failure of technology vendors to make their products secure and usable by the masses is poised to bite them where it hurts.
Gary_EL
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50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2014 | 1:25:05 PM
Standards
The lack of standards is the same issue hampering the progress of EHR. And there, too, are the privacy issues. Is there anyone else still around who remembers the days of the Cold War when the military often ended up issuing standards by fiat? But, given time, standards will emerge, as the always do. Questions of privacy, of course, are a thornier matter.
BrianB438
50%
50%
BrianB438,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/17/2014 | 3:20:45 PM
Security & Privacy

Security and Privacy are always the afterthought.  We are in an emerging time where data collected from devices is an advertisers homerun.  It's important that we question who owns the information collected by the devices and what the policies and rights are properties of the information. IoT and the associated products that enable information gathering need both an alignment for interoperability and security/privacy practices.

Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/17/2014 | 3:35:39 PM
IoT security
Even the device makers understand that the lack of common security standards and other interoperability standards will hold them back.
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
11/17/2014 | 4:46:47 PM
The danger is tsunamis is overhyped too...
It's easy to say the Internet of Things is overhyped, just as it's easy to say the danger of tsunamis is over-rated. Of course it's over-rated, until it arrives in your harbor. I think a knowledgeable IT manager will try to imagine what an Internet of Things will look like, how it will change his customers, his market and ultimately what he's called on to do. The early implementers, like the Nest thermostat and utility smart meters, have had to overcome plenty of  consumer resistance, without fully addressing security. That is, ease of implementation has trumped protection in depth. Once consumers want to engage with the Internet of Things, the security issue will be more fully addressed (I hope).
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
11/17/2014 | 5:24:47 PM
Re: The danger is tsunamis is overhyped too...
The difficulty with IoT as a term is that it's just too broad. Whether consumers will flock to Internet-connected door locks is a different question than whether manufacturers will deploy more sensors to monitor assembly lines. Certainly some aspects of IoT, specifically the consumer angle, are long on hope and short on sales. (Nest is not going to have people replacing their smoke detectors every year or two, the way smartphone owners have been doing.) But the notion that things can ba managed better with processors and networking has a lot to recommend it.
maniong
50%
50%
maniong,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/18/2014 | 5:31:15 PM
Internet of Things
From what I see currently, might it not be better to have an internet of useful things. This should make a list of only a dozen of so things. Much easier to manage.
zaious
50%
50%
zaious,
User Rank: Ninja
11/18/2014 | 11:58:39 PM
Re: Security & Privacy
It is important for the end users. However, everyone is not aware of what is being transmitted and to what they are clicking "I agree". Some are very concerned about the way data are handled, some are kind of lenient. 
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