Why Standardization Is Necessary for the Internet of Things

The rapid development of the Internet of Things industry has led to an explosion in the variety of IoT solutions on offer to consumers and businesses. In fact, many experts have referred to this trend as the “Next Industrial Revolution.” The IoT industry is expected to grow and be worth as much as $20.9 billion by the end of 2020.

What made the Internet of Things popular is its ability to provide efficiency, increase productivity and achieve results quickly. It has gone beyond mobile devices and smart home appliances “as this new concept is more far-reaching and influential than you may even realize,” according to digital firm Telogis. A person is now able to move and control information from one device to another – all from the palm of their hand.

However, just like any other technology out there, there are obvious risks that come about by an increasingly connected world, such as cybercrimes that continue to be a rising issue year on year.

The solution is to regulate the IoT, especially on how it is used and set up.

At present, IoT manufacturers and solution providers only build and use devices with few restrictions. There is a lack of consistency and standardization across the whole industry, especially when using connected devices to perform IoT backend tasks, i.e., processing, storage through cloud services and firmware updates. The need to build a standard model for the Internet of Things is necessary to ensure levels of portability, interoperability and manageability, which are almost impossible to gain with the current tech solutions.

IT leaders and managers should create a standardized code for how internet-connected devices are set up, according to industry experts. Also, more restrictions should be made on consumer technologies.

Ted Alben, an IoT practice manager, said that “common sense allows us to exclude consumer-grade devices” when creating laws or code that should regulate the growing world of the internet. He suggests that we need to go deeper and set a model for impending convergence as the possibility of connected technologies to be compromised could lead to potential devastating problems. Alben cited “something as innocent as a system reboot,” which can turn off the lights at a rail station can be very dangerous.

Standardizing IoT devices won’t be an easy task. There will be hurdles and challenges that will impact the process, including the implementation of the regulations.

There are four interrelated categories that affect the process of standardization and its implementation, namely the platform, connectivity, business model and killer applications. Likewise, there are also elements that affect the implementation of the code – sensors, network, standards, intelligent analysis and intelligent actions.

All of these are necessary. But, a lot of work needs to be done, including getting many companies to agree on a unifying model — a daunting task. If one major component isn’t satisfied with the standardization procedure it could be years before a solution is found.

As we become more dependent on internet-connected devices, there’s an assurance that it is not going anywhere. Although, the advancements in software that connect every IoT device requires standardization for the safety of networks and its users.

George Akiyama, CIO of Caltrans, said the “IoT is ubiquitous… it is everywhere and we need a way to secure it.”

However, it’s not going to be an easy job as previously stated. We need to overcome different obstacles from consumer to business end before we can successful create a standardized code that is implemented across the board.


Jennifer Birch is freelance writer covering IoT development, particularly virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence.

Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in our coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.

Morning Consult