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Will the Internet of Things become the Internet of Broken Things?

J.D. Sartain | April 21, 2014
Fifty billion devices will connect to the Internet in the next few years. It's up to vendors to make sure they do, in fact, connect to the Internet -- and provide reliable data, security and customer experience. Otherwise, analysts warn, the future may bring an Internet of Broken Things.

Design, Quality, Reliability Will Convince Customers

In a recent Forrester report, The Internet of Things Comes Home, Bit by Bit, analyst Frank Gillett notes that it's not a foregone conclusion that everything will be connected to the Internet or have an active sensor.

Indifferent users still outnumber the fans, Gillett says. Both U.S. and European consumers express mixed attitudes about these new technologies; the majority has no desire to adopt remote home monitoring or appliance control. Home energy and security solutions top the list with the pro-Internet of Things crowd, but overall interest still wanes for the majority. "Consumers don't want a smart home," the report says. "They want a smart product to solve a specific problem."

LeHong says the Internet of Things will exist, to some degree, even if it's just a smart meters or thermostats in the majority of homes in developed economies. It just might take well more than five years to get there, too. Groups, businesses and individuals will reject the idea for privacy reasons, but those consumers will always have the option to buy things without sensors. Not everything that can be connected, technologically speaking, will be connected — sensors will appear in things when it makes sense commercially, socially and for the greater public good.

As market leaders realize the importance of ease of use, Martin says consumers will likely see an ongoing and concerted effort to deliver on the promise of simplified content delivery platforms. In the long run, anything that's short on quality, user experience, reliability or security will adversely impact a company's brand equity.

"Devices with embedded connectivity will ultimately pervade every household — yet it's the extent to which (and when) such advancements become both readily available and widely utilized that's in question," Martin says. "Fortunately, for consumers and enterprises alike, the value of connected services — and IoT, for that matter - will only improve over time."

Cisco is working with the industry to solve these challenges, having recently announced a joint architecture with Rockwell Automation to improve IoT security and the IOx platform for processing data "as close to the source as possible," Kranz says.

"We're moving analytics to the data instead of data to the analytics," Kranz says, adding that the Fog Computing architecture on which the IOx platform sits "gives customers the ability to host third-party applications at the edge of the network."

LeHong says he's "all for" the Internet of Things — provided, as stated, that it makes sense commercially, socially and for the greater public good.

"There's much value in it," he says. "As a former engineer, I appreciate the industrial productivity gains that will be possible. As a consumer, it will be awesome to know which parking spots are free as I go into the city."


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