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The Increasing Need for IoT Interoperability

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) will make our lives simpler, our businesses more cost efficient, and our governments more productive. To achieve such benefits, trade-offs will be made including increasingly complex IoT ecosystems, constrained and overwhelmed networks, and more frequent security breaches. 

Here are just a few facts:

  • By 2020, Business Insider estimates that 34 billion devices will be connected to the internet, of which 24 billion will be IoT devices and the remaining 10 billion will comprise of smartphones, tables, smartwatches and the like.
  • In 3 years, IDC reports that 50% of IT networks will transition from having excess capacity for handling the additional IoT devices, to being network constrained with nearly 10% of sites being overwhelmed.
  • Within a year, 40% of IoT-created data will be stored, processed, analyzed, and acted upon close to, or at the edge of the network, says IDC.

It’s no surprise, then, that current IoT users, communication service providers and industry analysts all emphasize the need to reduce complexity and optimize networks so they can allow for scalable deployments, secure delivery, cost-effective operations, and a faster go-to-market timeline for new applications.

To get to that point, the industry will need to come together to develop and abide by a common set of IoT standards and technologies. Today, this remains a gap.

To maximize interoperability between devices, platforms, data formats, protocols, and applications and create an “any device, any app, any network” model, this requires developing standards along four key areas: scalability, horizontal integration, security, and interoperability.


Estimates for IoT’s growth as listed above are impressive and should serve as a call-to-action to prepare network and platform infrastructure for IoT scalability. This can only be achieved through consistency. Design requirements should be in place to protect mechanisms in the core network, as well as application-level controls to enable more efficient use of network resources.

Greater consistence in the development of backend tasks is also necessary. With 90% of IoT data expected to be hosted on cloud platforms, new standards for software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) based networks provide carriers and enterprises the necessary means to manage the growing number of devices and applications residing in the cloud, as well as the traffic they will most likely generate.

Horizontal integration

To create a truly connected world that links the apps in your car, at home, and at the office to work in true harmony will require true horizontal integration of devices, applications, systems, and platforms. Today, much integration is reserved, at least for the most part, along vertical lines within a specific industry or for specific applications. An end-to-end network architecture that incorporates common service capabilities, interfaces, and open APIs will encourage greater, easier, and more cost-effective collaboration between devices.

IoT standards

A key to harmonizing device interactions and simplifying integrations comes by way of creating common models that will maximize how devices, platforms, data formats, protocols, and applications work together. Implementing standards to simplify how each of these will interact with the next will make it easier for individual stakeholders to partner with each other’s components, networks, and services.


In two years, security breaches are expected to occur in 90% of all IT networks. Though many of these will be classified inconveniences, the lack of safeguards can inhibit the true potential of IoT. This calls for greater security that goes well beyond those implemented within the device. Data centers and the lines in which data is transported will need standard security protocols to protect against data loss or unauthorized access.

Developing IoT standards in an evolving industry is never easy. Yet, doing so will open the door to a fully connected world that will offer unprecedented business opportunities for many players in communications, IT, and consumer electronics, among other industry verticals.

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Case Study: IoT is redefining the customer experience. Nokia case study.

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