A new book that says the IoT is flawed, if not broken, is right – and wrong

IoT flawed
Image credit | Besjunior

It is hard to argue with the thesis that the IoT is flawed. The new book, reviewed by Telecoms.com and written by Matt Hatton, who has been around the IoT since it was a twinkle in the eye of Machine to Machine developments, is harsh in its judgements.

According to the synopsis on Amazon:

‘the first part sets the scene by taking us back to 2010. This was when many made optimistic predictions for the Internet of Things (IoT), and we show how these have not been realised – indeed how they have been missed by quite some distance. The second part is an analysis of why the forecasts were so badly missed.’

If you just read those two parts you would probably agree that the IoT is flawed for sure.

Our own view (partially reflected in the book) is that the IoT as a concept is still sound and that the problems sprang from the same problems that dog the footsteps of the entire technology industry whenever it gets over-excited by a new wave of tech.

5G is the most recent and most obvious example. We were promised a revolution by the marketeers and all we got was extra speed (so far).

IoT is similar. We were promised a world of quietly beeping devices that would make our lives simpler, streamlined and the stuff of science fiction. IoT would run cities, companies and a host of things in between. Not so much.

We were promised things that were, frankly, ludicrous and which did not help its case. Who needs a fridge that talks to the supermarket, who needs a toilet that tells you how you are, or a toothbrush that tells you how to brush your teeth? These IoST devices did nothing for the PR of the overall IoT and only managed to spotlight the enormous and dangerous security flaws that riddle the connected world.

But let’s, as the Americans might say, back up a minute.

Yes, the original predictions for IoT adoption were wildly optimistic (and we said so back in 2016). Yes, far too much emphasis was placed on 5G being the key to its success (why that happened is still a mystery – the point of IoT is that it can run on whatever suits its purpose at the time).

And yes, the predictions were also based on Governments being quick to respond to the enormous possibilities for costs savings and efficiencies that were placed before them.

The truth is that 5G, even 4G, is tangential to the IoT.

The truth is that Governments, particularly at a city level, exhibit all the speed of thought of the beloved tortoise. Who, in their right mind, believed that Governments would grasp this opportunity when many Councillors are close to retirement, in a cushy little job or don’t want to rock the boat.

The truth is also that there are many examples of the IoT being deployed that are producing fantastic cost savings and efficiencies, right now, across the world.

The GSMA points to the following as case studies (there are more):

  • China Mobile, Big Data solutions in agriculture
  • Telstra, asset tracking
  • Dialog, steps towards a smart grid
  • Tele2, healthcare and remote monitoring of patients
  • Telefonica, Peru, tracking motor bikes to reduce theft
  • TM One, smart traffic

So, yes, on one level the IoT is flawed but it is far from done, far from needing to be scrapped and restarted.

And yes, as Messrs Hatton and Webb argue, there is a ‘need for a single standard for connectivity and for an honest understanding of the value chain for IoT and hence the opportunities (and lack of them).’

But to say that the IoT is flawed or broken, as Telecoms.com describes it, is harsh. It may be late, it may have suffered delays and it definitely suffered from being over-hyped.

But it will flourish and bloom – and ultimately disappear.

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