Poll: Standardization Biggest Challenge in IoT

A survey of more than 450 Light Reading readers suggests that fragmentation and a lack of standards is the biggest challenge for service providers wanting to participate in the space.

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

February 27, 2015

3 Min Read
Poll: Standardization Biggest Challenge in IoT

When it comes to the Internet of Things, the biggest challenge for service providers is dealing with fragmentation and a lack of standards, and their biggest priority is to help direct the standards process.

That is what 36% of Light Reading readers told us in a recent poll of more than 450, asking, "What are the biggest challenges and priorities for service providers when it comes to participating in the Internet of Things (IoT)?" (See Hola, MWC#15.)

The second highest vote for service provider concerns went to "positioning their brands as critical to the IoT to avoid becoming transport-only pipes," which is a challenge they are used to in many areas outside of the IoT as well. (See Will 2015 Bring IoT Resolution for Operators?)

Here is a look at how our survey respondents voted in the poll, excluding the 5% who said "other."

Figure 1:

For more on the challenges and opportunities in the IoT, visit the dedicated IoT content channel on Light Reading.

Amongst the others, one reader from a service provider, MarkC73, suggested the addition of "monetization" to the list, noting that, "I would think before I can sell the execs on this, I need something beyond brand stickiness, like ROI and monetization, because companies do things that make/save them money, make them look good, and/or are forced to do."

MarkC73 brings up a good point, because for all the hype there is around the IoT, it still only represents around 2% to 3% of a service providers' revenue, according to recent Heavy Reading research. Operators are working out how to monetize IoT through analytics and services. They are keen to go beyond being just the pipe providers, as our survey respondents indicated. "Attracting device creators and app developers to build solutions for their networks," which 13% selected, fits into that equation as well.

As for fragmentation, that's a challenge that will continue to get worse as more products flood the market that don't talk to each other or ride the same networks. Some -- like Verizon Enterprise Solutions -- see a role for themselves as a managed service provider for enterprise customers to help simplify this ecosystem, but standards will be crucial to define how IoT devices communicate with networks. (See Verizon Enterprise Makes Its IoT Play.)

That's why we are seeing so many standards bodies and protocols popping up in the IoT lately. That could, however, mean we end up with not one, but several, standards for IoT -- not necessarily a bad thing given how large and diverse it is becoming. (See AllSeen Tries to Streamline IoT Standards, Aeris Launches IoT Marketplace and OIC Issues First IoT Framework.)

Finally, the need to ensure the security of IoT data attracted 21% of our survey respondents' votes, but perhaps it should be higher given that the more things that get connected, the more things there are for cyber criminals to hack. There's a lot of valuable IoT data floating around out there, and service providers see a role for themselves as being the guardians of it. (See Could Hackers Take Over Your Home?)

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— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

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