From ‘Nice-to-Have’ to Mature and Foundational
Internet of Things (IoT) solutions have always promised to provide businesses of all sizes with great benefits including; improved productivity, cost effective operations, increased efficiencies, better customer experience, competitive advantage, and so much more. But if there’s one notable trend that sets the tone for 2023 and beyond, it’s the fact that IoT projects continue to gain traction despite economic headwinds that some anticipate in the short term. According to a survey performed by our partner Eseye, 96% of 500 senior decision makers confirmed IoT project budgets will continue to increase in the next 2-3 years. Further, growth in the number of connected devices also re-accelerated in 2022 and is expected to continue, with organizations looking at multiple projects at the same time.
Security Concerns Remain
And to illustrate how this growth will continue to manifest over the next few years, IDC estimates that 41.6 billion connected IoT devices will be generating 79.4 ZB of data by 2025. Unfortunately, every “thing” connected to networks is also a potential entry point to the enterprise. To better protect this expanded attack surface, Governments and private enterprises are together addressing IoT security concerns:
- The U.S. government is taking a series of measures to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity in general but also to modernize IoT deployments especially those used in critical infrastructure.
- In Europe, similar guidelines have been published by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) specifically targeting IoT operators and critical infrastructures.
Lack of Skills
In addition to security concerns, many organizations lack the personnel and resources to fully deploy and manage IoT systems. This could include aspects like: extensive site surveys plus analysis, planning, testing, and implementation. According to an Inmarsat study of 450 respondents, just 20% of organizations have the skills needed to successfully integrate IoT into their operations. Only 32% of respondents claimed to have all the skills needed at senior leadership levels to fully integrate IoT into their overall business strategies.
Without all these skill sets in place, businesses will continue to struggle to integrate IoT projects into the wider organization. If needed, they must look to external partners to provide specialist help and expertise.
Early adopters in manufacturing, public safety and supply chain management to name a few, are starting to deploy 5G to support use cases such as smart factories and greater use of IoT sensors due to expanded coverage, increased capacity, and low latency. While private 5G is unlikely to replace Wi-Fi in the near term, it can enable real-time use cases – especially for IoT and edge computing use cases.
Unlike a public 5G network, private networks offer a degree of control that may otherwise not be possible. It also allows for faster response to security and coverage quality issues. The path to getting a fully integrated production-grade system that meets these and other use cases can be massive. Some vendors have started to offer private 5G as a managed service, including access points, sim cards, overall system integration and management.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and its Own Specific Challenges
All it takes is a quick Internet search to see that healthcare organizations have been a top target for cybercriminals in recent years. Why? Because during the COVID pandemic, healthcare delivery organizations’ defenses have been down as they have been laser focused on meeting the challenge of delivering care during this extremely challenging time. Further, medical records contain valuable information that can be exploited and used for identity theft or other nefarious purposes. As a result, prices commanded on the Dark web for a healthcare record can be much higher than those of a stolen credit card number. While the latest generation of connected medical devices bring the promise of improved patient care, better clinical data, improved efficiency, and reduced costs–they also bring increased security risks. Resilience is quickly becoming the guiding strategy – not only for healthcare but for any IT investment. Information security professionals and clinical engineering need to combine their approach to patient care, risk management, incident response, and recovery processes.