Our Connected Future
ISO focus September-October 2016 – ISSN 2226-1095
Paradigm shift in technology
Technology consulting firm Gartner, Inc. projects that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year, up 30% from last year. And this number is expected to grow by more than three times to nearly 21 billion by the year 2020. Over half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of IoT by 2020, assures Gartner. The impact on consumers’ lives and corporate business models is rapidly increasing as the cost of “instrumenting” physical things with sensors and connecting them to other things – devices, systems and
people – continues to drop.
Welcome to Industry 4.0
Around the world, traditional manufacturing industry is also in the midst of a major change, marking the dawn of smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0. Every day, technologies based on IoT make factories smarter, safer and more environmentally sustainable. IoT connects the factory to a whole new range of smart manufacturing solutions, which run around the production. The dramatic improvements in production and cost reduction are projected to generate billions in revenue growth and productivity over the next decade. The transformation that it implies is huge.
IoT gives manufacturers the ability to track objects, to find out how consumers are using a certain product, and to determine which features are the prominent ones. This creates a better
understanding of what adjustments should be made to the product(s) to help improve adoption and purchasing rates. Knowing what the users do with the product is something brands want to
leverage and IoT makes that readily available. According to a global survey released by Gartner earlier this year, adoption of IoT is expected to reach 43% of enterprises by the end of this year, with the heaviest users including companies in the oil, gas, utilities and manufacturing industries.
As with any new technology, IoT can be confusing and intimidating, especially as debates around standardization. Currently, the biggest
problem facing IoT is the lack OF consistent standards. While some layers of the IoT technology stack have no standards, others have numerous competing standards with no obvious winner.
Without a “common communication method”, devices will only be able to talk to their own brands and severely limit the helpfulness of connected machines. To understand how a lack of uniform standards can complicate product development and industry growth, consider connectivity issues. For example, if a company that develops smart clothing is different from a company that develops smart home technology, the chances of their products communicating are minimal. That’s because different devices will often use different communications protocols, resulting in a lack of interoperability and an experience that’s far from seamless for customers. However, if the two companies used the same standard for connectivity, interoperability would be much more likely. It’s no wonder, therefore, that IoT is a hot topic in the standards community. ISO/IEC joint technical committee JTC 1 formed a working group on the Internet of Things (WG 10) to develop
an architectural model for the interoperability of IoT systems. Many of the standards that are needed probably exist, but their relative importance, deployment and application are not yet clear.
To address the situation, ISO established a Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) on Industry 4.0. Its Chair, Kai Rannenberg, believes network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data is key. “The IoT opens great opportunities and unforeseen applications, but can also create major risks, e.g. when data collection is exaggerated, or when devices connected to the Internet were not designed to handle this challenge.” Rannenberg sees standards leveraging IoT technologies to create more efficient, responsive make-to – order systems. “ There will be
interfaces, interfaces and more interfaces. Standards are needed to avoid interfaces becoming bottlenecks for bringing products to market. And there is certainly a big role for standards on the architectural design of Industry 4.0/smart manufacturing to coordinate workflows and processes.” FoR Rannen berg and others, the culmination of the SAG’s work is a set of standards ensuring that every device connected to the Internet will be able to seamlessly talk to each other – no matter the chip, operating system or maker of the device.
Collaborating and sharing
Although multiple organizations, including interest groups and industry consortia, are attempting to establish standards, ISO has its eyes set on collaborative efforts.Earlier this year, ISO, IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) and ITU organized a joint workshop on standards for IoT in Berlin, Germany. The event was hosted by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN), the ISO member for the country, and led by ISO/IEC JTC 1. The aim was to share experience and gain insights on ongoing standardization activities in the area of IoT among the three
organizations. Speakers from various sectors shared their expectations of IoT and how it could impact their area of activity. Several use cases were presented, addressing applications such as smart grids, intelligent manufacturing, supply chain management and wearable smart devices. Global challenges such as energy conservation, smarter cities and improved healthcare were also discussed as concrete examples where IoT can have a significant transformational role. The workshop also examined issues transversal to the different application domains of IoT, such as data
privacy and security, and reference architectures. Progress of related standardization is critical for the large-scale adoption of IoT technologies and solutions.
Going beyond connectivity
Rapid changes in IoT technology make it challenging for even the most experienced experts to anticipate the future of standardization in the field. What is certain, however, is that the possibilities will be limitless. Evanhoe, as a futurist, understands the current trends of technology and predicts where they are headed. “The convergence is inevitable, ” he says. “ IoT goes beyond connected devices, i.e. things with an IP address; all of the automatic identification technologies, including RFID and barcodes, enable IoT by helping to identify the ‘things’ in IoT so it’s all of this working together to enable IoT and its benefits.” Whether it’s through your phone, wearable tech or everyday household objects, IoT will connect us in ways we can’t even imagine yet. So, if you are looking to hitch your wagon to a rising tide, grab the coat-tails of the coming IoT standards tidal wave and hang on for the ride of your life.