8 areas to prepare for as IoT age approaches

18 May 2016

Businesses are busy readying themselves for the next stage of connected devices, the internet of things (IoT), and there are a few areas that need particular attention.


Gartner has highlighted eight key aspects of connectivity that will demand particular attention in the coming years, the next two years to be specific.

Claiming there are skills and technology that companies have “yet to master”, Gartner VP Nick Jones said “immaturity” among technology, services and companies is a real problem.

“Architecting for this immaturity and managing the risk it creates will be a key challenge for organisations exploiting IoT. In many technology areas, lack of skills will also pose significant challenges,” he said.

With early-adopter benefits likely, everything from customer interaction to supply chain management is in line for an overhaul as technology advances. Here are eight areas we need to keep an eye on, according to Gartner.


A major concern is that the more connected devices, the more reward for hacking into just one. If your entire home is synced – heating, fridge, lighting, cooker etc – then breaking into a thermostat could, in theory, give access to everything.

Data attacks, as well as tampering, are risks, with anything that has an ISP under threat.

IoT security will be complicated by the fact that many ‘things’ use simple processors and operating systems that may not support sophisticated security approaches.

“Experienced IoT security specialists are scarce, and security solutions are currently fragmented and involve multiple vendors,” said Jones. “New threats will emerge through 2021 as hackers find new ways to attack IoT devices and protocols, so long-lived ‘things’ may need updatable hardware and software to adapt during their lifespan.”


Customer behaviour is key to connected devices, again using the home as an example. When you get up, when you shower, when you’re home etc. Other data treasures include when services or products need to be delivered, improved upon or even created.

However, IoT demands new analytic approaches, according to Gartner. “New analytic tools and algorithms are needed now, but as data volumes increase through 2021, the needs of the IoT may diverge further from traditional analytics.”

Device management

Keeping devices up-to-date is important now, it will be more so in the future. So-called ‘long-lived non-trivial’ devices will be key.

“This includes device monitoring, firmware and software updates, diagnostics, crash analysis and reporting, physical management, and security management,” according to Gartner.


Low-power, short-range networks will dominate wireless IoT connectivity in the short term, however, wide-area networks will exist alongside this. The latter will eventually come to deliver connectivity of ranging speeds, across varying distances. Battery life must improve, and costs must reduce.


Processors are developing at a fast speed. Only today, a new, low-power concept was shown by researchers looking to drive microelectronics into the next age.

As with all hardware design, there are complex trade-offs between features, hardware cost, software cost, software upgradability and so on. As a result, understanding the implications of processor choices will demand deep technical skills.

Operating systems

Windows and OS were not designed for IoT devices. They are too heavy, require too much support and can be slow. They also have too large a memory footprint for small devices and may not support the chips that IoT developers use. Consequently, a wide range of IoT-specific operating systems has been developed to suit many different hardware footprints and feature needs.

Event stream processing

In some cases, future devices will need to be able to analyse huge data rates, in real time. “To address such requirements, distributed stream computing platforms (DSCPs) have emerged. They typically use parallel architectures to process very high-rate data streams to perform tasks such as real-time analytics and pattern identification.”

Platforms, standards and ecosystems

IoT platforms bundle low-level device control, data management and app development into one single product. These will become a lot more common. Ecosystems and standards will eventually materialise as APIs. A problem is there will be no true API for standards, rather many in competition.

“Organisations creating products may have to develop variants to support multiple standards or ecosystems and be prepared to update products during their lifespan as the standards evolve and new standards and related APIs emerge,” according to Gartner.

Main image of a smartphone via Wachwit/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic