As I’ve said before, everyone is talking about the Internet of things (IoT). It’s the buzzword du jour. It’s going to be huge, HUGE I tell you!! Billions and billions of devices connecting to the internet over the next 6 years. And that’s just the devices side of things. Then there’s the software side. The API services. The data analytics side of things. The Authentication and Identity Management areas. To say nothing of the cloud storage requirements. This market is poised to explode over the next decade in ways that we have never seen before — think the late 90s Internet Bubble was an explosion? It will be but a popping corn kernel in comparison to the IoT explosion. And it’s not just me saying this. Forrester Research has been saying it for years.

If your company isn’t at least thinking about IoT you’ve already missed the boat. If your company is still dithering on how to move forward in IoT, or don’t have someone on-board already looking at and formulating your IoT direction, the boat is about to pull away from the dock without you. If you think “The IoT isn’t going to impact my business” the boat’s going to run you over. It’s as simple as that. IoT is coming. It is the next logical step in connecting our world. There is enormous economic and business value to having more and more devices and systems connected to the internet. And consumers are, more and more, wanting their devices, and themselves, connected to the internet. 

Let’s take the example of simple telemetry. This is in some sense the same argument that Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems, made back in the late 90’s when he talked about connected lightbulbs. What if your lightbulb could tell you it was going to burn out before it burned out? If you’re a business, say managing a sky scraper with 10s of thousands of lightbulbs, that information could save you millions of dollars a year. Telemetry can have huge value. 

Personal telemetry can be quite valuable, too. The market in ‘wearable’ tech is currently undergoing a significant change. In fact, it is not just changing, it is actually finally emerging as a market. With FitBit, Jawbone Up, Withings, and a plethora of other connected personal fitness devices, more and more people are collecting, and even sharing, their personal telemetry. I’ve personally been collecting such telemetry for years in the form of heart rate data while I work out via the Suunto heart rate monitor. In the past year, I added the FitBit, and then the WiThings Activité watch, Blood Pressure Monitor, and Body Analyzer Scale. I can now share this data with my doctor at will, if needed. This is personal telemetry. 

Both personal telemetry, and other telemetry, can have a direct impact on everyone. And you may not even know it. 

And yes, that’s IoT and telemetry.

One of the major challenges that will confront IoT is privacy, authentication, and authorization. As I stated above, I collect a vast amount of personal medical information, all of which, currently, is stored in the cloud. How safe is that information? Who has access to that information? How can I control who gets access to that information? All of these are questions that need to be answered, and answered quickly, if IoT is going to be successful. I need to be able to authenticate my IoT devices, and I need to be abe to authenticate who accesses my IoT telemetry. I need to be confident that my IoT data is held securely and privately, and that I am in control of how that data is shared.

These issues of authentication, authorization and privacy are of paramount importance if IoT is going to succeed. These concepts must be baked in to any IoT system from the very start, not added in as a layer later. In fact, Forbes just published an article about this very thing. 

So, who’s going to own the authentication, authorization and privacy space for IoT? That all depends on who gets there first, on who can provide a complete solution. A complete solution that developers can have easy, ready access to. A solution that is massively scalable — since we’re talking about implementations spanning billions of devices — and that is, in itself, secure. It’s far too early to pick a winner here, or even a front-runner. But as I sated above, it will likely be the company — or technology — that has a solution that enters the fray soonest, and captures the minds of developers. There are plenty of solutions out there, but none, so far, that appears to be making a serious run at the IoT space.