(Industrialized) IoT App Development

Has IoT app development begun to take the globe by storm? A few weeks ago we discussed the growing need for more third-party app creation for the Industrial IoT industry. This week, we dive deeper and focus on those early adopters of industrialized IoT app development and what industries these “bleeding edgers” are serving. We all know by now the number of connected things is projected to grow massivelyover the coming years. Injecting new software applications into the industrial IoT world creates even more monitoring, control and usage of devices and data at the edge. Some would call this influx of software with industrialized hardware a modern marriage. The manufacturing sector, for example, seems to have found a use for implementing next-generation hardware to improve and automate operations, especially along the assembly line. At the same time, cloud-based software solutions are being leveraged to improve data analytics, thus improving actionable intelligence in real-time. What’s more is this new environment is incentivizing industrial manufacturers to cultivate new business models as they are finding that solutions they have developed in-house are as valuable as the hardware they manufacture. By tracking the performance of manufactured products in the field, manufacturers gain faster feedback loops and insights from customers. For example, instead of waiting months or even years for performance feedback, the integration of cloud-based software and modern hardware provides manufacturers this information in what is approaching real-time. This allows them to respond quickly with fixes, advice or, when needed, replacement equipment. As we enter into uncharted territory for many in this new interoperable, connected tech world, we have to also consider the cybersecurity measures in place and how it will combat any vulnerabilities as the surge of new, industrialized software applications enter our critical infrastructures. Security must be manufactured into the product from the very beginning – this includes tamper-proof hardware, authentication protocols, data encryption and more. What’s Next? Big companies like AT&T and Microsoft are joining forces for the good of the developer. We all can agree software is taking hold of certain business operations, so it is only natural companies would seek an easy solution for enterprise to bring about this change. The industrial side may appear to move slower when it comes to implementation, but that is only because of the various moving parts – machine-to-machine (M2M) devices, sensors and wireless technologies – that must sync with precision without missing a beat. Software is the enabler of this interoperability. So what is the next step in this industrialized development? Jeff Dorsch with Semi Engineering believes that, “Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications proliferate in critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and water supply, the importance of the underlying software and the availability of an open-source platform for app development is coming to the forefront.” This fully-functioning data driven ecosystem will have to decide if open or closed systems are the best for their needs. Google and Apple, for example, have provided internet enabled ecosystems of devices. The problem is that they are closed ecosystems that limit which devices and which data can speak to each other. If industrial players want to take advantage and accelerate their own digital transformations, market opportunities and revenue, then they must take a closer look at open and secure technologies and start innovating for IIoT today. So as we all start to dip our toes in the industrialized software development pond, be sure to consider how your desired outcome matches the factors of delivering business value – customer responsiveness, security, revenue generation and operational efficiency. All are important in and of themselves, but different business models drive different decision-making. Embracing the IIoT app development opportunity early on might prove to be the smartest investment from a competitive advantage standpoint – being able to answer the “why” question is what will eventually separate the high-performers from the rest.

IIoT Bold Prediction Series Part 2: Government Regulations Coming

Yesterday, we kicked the 2016 IIoT Bold Prediction Series off with a bang! As a nice follow-up, and second iteration of the series, Tim Mester, Principal Engineer of Advanced Technology at FreeWave, presents his Industrial IoT bold prediction: Prediction #2: Government Regulations Coming for IoT and IIoT Devices Due to a major security breach or reliability failure in connected devices or systems used in the Industrial IoT space, governments will be compelled to create and enforce new regulations on all IoT (and IIoT) devices, much like what is happening with the drone industry. (Note: IoT security breaches are not unheard of, as pointed out in this recent article by Bill Montgomery and  Glenn Longley’s latest prediction as the first part of the bold prediction series.) But, like drones, the barrier to entry into the IoT space has been lowered by improvements in technology. For IoT/IIoT devices, it is by the proliferation of a low power “system on chip” technology (SoC) and platforms like the Beagle Bone, Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Also, the Open Source software that is available allows developers to quickly pull products together based on these inexpensive SoC’s. Now that we can quickly have these products, how do those procuring these know that they are secure? How do they know they will be reliable and will not fail in mission critical applications? Companies that are already experienced in the M2M and IIoT space understand these issues and concerns. They take the necessary steps to ensure that they can deliver secure and robust devices to their customers. But what about the new comers? The ones that took the easy route? The ones who do not have the experience in this space? Looking Ahead As IoT/IIoT data and control becomes more sensitive and critical, concern will grow concerning the robustness of all of these devices that our lives are becoming dependent on. I believe that we will see a surge of government regulations that mandate the levels of security and reliability for IoT and IIoT devices. We are already seeing the beginning of these types of government regulations being mandated in some critical infrastructure industries and this will only perpetuate. In smart grid projects, for example, operators must take into consideration the cybersecurity reliability standards which FERC oversees. This helps operators choose a more cyber-hardened technology. On the other hand, for industries that do not have these standards in place yet, there remains a tradeoff between “secure” and “easy-to-use.” When strong cybersecurity has not been mandated, people tend to avoid the “harder-to-use” option that is typically more secure.

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Designed, manufactured and tested in the USA.

© 2023 FreeWave Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.