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“The potential challenges facing Internet of Things initiatives are numerous and varied,” begins the Market Challenges section of our latest report. The comprehensive report goes into specific detail on a wide range of obsticles facing vendors and their customers who may be exploring opportunities for Internet of Things in Building (BIoT).

Here we assess just five of the key challenges facing the wide-scale deployment of IoT devices, especially their deployment in commercial buildings.

Security

The fear of cyber attack is an undeniable and influential limitation to IoT adoption. According to a Gemalto survey released in October 2017 month, an overwhelming 90% of consumers lack confidence in the security of IoT devices. While Aruba network’s IoT research report of 2017 found that over half of respondents 52% feel external attack is the greatest threat to their IoT systems, and shockingly, 84% have already experienced an IoT related breach.

“As the growth of IoT continues, tighter security controls must be adhered to by all stakeholders, this will necessitate increased funding, as well as more focus on device visibility and security compliance at all levels of the technology stack,” explains the report. “IoT device manufacturers and service providers will also need to increase spending on device security to improve customer confidence in the area.”

Privacy

There are significant privacy challenges surrounding the collection, storage and use of data that relates to individuals. Anytime the collection and use of IoT data includes personal information, and when the information collected can be used to predict the behavior of an individual, there is a potential privacy issue for businesses. This is especially problematic for buildings applying IoT devices that, by their very purpose, sense the movement of occupants and analyze behavior in order to help facility managers better utilize their space.

“People need reassurances that their data is being used responsibly and kept securely, and the possibility to opt-out of monitoring needs to be easily accessible at all times. Companies must determine how to secure rights to the data and manage data access,” explains our report. “A business may own the device that is gathering data, but the data potentially belongs to the customer, so businesses need to be mindful and cautious about the way data is handled.”

Cost vs ROI

Cost is always a challenge when considering new investment but even more so when the return on that investment is not easily understood. While energy efficiency offers more tangible returns it only represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of the IoT in buildings. The benefits of such technology touch every element of the enterprise and over long periods of time, the challenge for those proposing BIoT installations is to demonstrate the full value to decision-makers.

“Due consideration should also be given to qualitative business gains such as productivity of employees, the ability to attract/retain important staff, improvements to brand image, or opportunities to better engage and satisfy customers during their visits to a retail store or shopping center,” the report explains. “The more that can be done to document the value-add to stakeholders across the business more viable the business-case can become.”

Knowledge & Skills

A recent survey conducted by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT found that 40% of professionals who protect and manage buildings admit they are ‘unfamiliar’ with the term ‘Internet of Things’, while 55% agreed there was a ‘lack of clear advice or knowledge’ on the subject. This lack of knowledge represents a fundamental and highly influential challenge to BIoT adoption, for those that do not understand the benefits of the technology can neither sanction the investment nor be expected to manage the system.

“Attracting, developing, and retaining the right talent will be critical for both systems vendors and their BIoT customers, but with so many data analytics and IoT related projects going on in multiple industries, the appropriate skills are often in short supply,” highlights the report. “Although universities are scaling up their capabilities and delivery of IoT related courses, it will still take five or more years before the supply of suitably skilled professionals comes close to matching the demand.”

Data Challenges

The IoT is all about data and lots of it. Building managers are simply unprepared to handle the new demands for data transmission, storage, processing and its complex analysis. Knowing what hardware and software is required is just the beginning, operating the system in order to garner its full potential is a huge challenge due to the sheer scale of the information involved.

“Analytics data can come from many sources and in many forms, both unstructured and structured. It may be in the form of numbers, but can also include text, images, video, real-time location data or biometric data. Unstructured data volumes generated by the IoT are growing at twice the rate of structured data and already account for 90% of all enterprise data,” the report points out. “New data processing strategies and platform capabilities will be needed to effectively categorize, clean and output the data in a form that allows for effective business insight.”