Two Self-Imposed Obstacles in the Way of the Internet of Things

BOSTON – At the Hub’s Connected Cloud Summit three weeks ago, Cognizant (and cognizant) futurist Ben Pring offered this summation of exactly how easy it is to achieve pervasive Internet of Things implementation: “All we have to do is keep calm and boil the ocean.”

“What we’re trying to do is just so enormous—so complicated—so challenging—that perhaps failure is assured,” suggested Pring in the ultimate keynote of the day.

Still, Pring seemed optimistic for the future, especially given the huge opportunities that IoT has to offer for the enterprise, both in terms of creating new business models as well as making old business models more efficient.

But it’s still a jungle out there, and someone is going to need a machete to cut through the obstacles facing the Internet of Things. Many of the problems, however, are self-imposed by well-meaning organizations, who wind up shooting themselves in their respective feet.

We’ve already discussed here, at length, the issues of IoT security and IoT latency. Here are two additional and equally significant obstacles experts highlighted at the Connected Cloud Summit.

The IPv4/IPv6 problem

Laila Partridge, managing director of Code On Technologies and roundtable panelist at the Connected Cloud Summit, got right to the point for her audience: “When you look in terms of wireless…you have only so much spectrum. It’s because everyone else is trying to get online, so things are clogging up the space.”

Specifically, the IPv4 space.

“Guess what!” griped Cory Von Wallenstein, chief technologist of Dyn and one of Partridge’s co-panelists, with a bit more than a tasteful hint of bitterness. “We still have IPv4; it’s not going away and we’re still deploying IPv4 applications every day.”

Von Wallenstein was very clear that IPv6 is vital to seeing real value and real ROI from IoT in the future. It’s not hard to see why. Presently, there are only about 1.3 million IPv4 addresses available, but Cisco has estimated that by 2020, more than 50 billion devices will connect to the Internet, mostly because of the Internet of Things. More Internet-enabled devices will require, naturally, more IP space. Otherwise, it is feared, shared connections and addresses will become less reliable, new online services will work less well than their older competitors, and online applications will be unable to tell users apart, potentially leading to misdirected blacklisting and wrongful accusations of criminal activity.

Still, few have answered the call to upgrade. Many are the enterprises that reacted to the IPv4 shortage by hoarding IPv4 space. Governments, meanwhile, have set the example for the private sector by repeatedly ignoring their own self-mandated deadlines for IPv6 migration.

Clearly, doomsaying isn’t working. Von Wallenstein thereby suggests an approach to IPv6 evangelism that highlights the cost benefits and the business model opportunities of the Internet of Things, which all but requires IPv6 to be maximally beneficial.

More to the point, emphasizing value over fear is “just so much more effective,” says Von Wallenstein. Flies and honey and vinegar and whatnot.

The corporate culture conundrum

Speaking of persuasion, culture often stands in the way of IoT adoption. One of the best ways to persuade your stakeholders to adopt interconnected IoT and cloud technologies, then, is to demonstrate how the technology truly helps them.

“It has to solve a problem,” Brendan McSheffrey, CEO of en-Gauge and member of a later panel at the Summit, responded when one attendee asked him a question on driving IoT adoption during a panel presentation, “and there’s a big problem with adoption insofar as a lot of companies have the Not-Invented-Here Syndrome.”

Ditto, of course, for B2B clients, and this defines the difference between what McSheffrey’s fellow panelist and ServiceSource’s Vice President of Product Marketing Ariane Lindblom respectively dubbed “Customer Support” and “Customer Success.”

“Customer Support…is more reactive,” explained Lindblom. “Customer Success is proactively reaching out.”

When it comes to that success, be it an external customer or an internal user you’re trying to “sell” on your idea, Lindblom emphasizes that it begins and ends with the use case. Only once that use case is defined and supported, said Lindblom, can you roll out any real changes.

Lindblom laid out for Summit attendees part of what that conversational process looks like: “I understand your business processes; I understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Let me help you[.]”

According to Lindblom, devotion to building the use case for IoT also solves the inverse cultural problem: that of the evangelist without a clue (let alone use case). Lindblom calls this mentality “If you build it, they will come” – and charitably calls it “pretty risky.”

Lindblom explains that the problem with this latter faux pas often comes in the form of trying to upsell the passive client: those who will tell your organization’s uber-evangelist, “You have the usage data; did you know that we’re not really using it?”

And then that client becomes a former client.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Joe Stanganelli is a writer, attorney, and communications consultant. He is also principal and founding attorney of Beacon Hill Law in Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeStanganelli.

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