Why Businesses Need Partnerships to Realize IoT Potential
The Internet of Things (IoT) is having a transformational effect in business and in consumers’ lives. Organizations are using IoT devices to uncover inefficiencies and cut costs or to collect and monetize data about the way customers use their products. For consumers, devices like smart speakers in their kitchens make daily tasks easier and more convenient, while things like connected LED lightbulbs or car entertainment systems can personalize experiences.
However, challenges in securing IoT devices put these benefits in jeopardy. IoT ecosystems in businesses and in consumers’ homes are becoming more complex and collect more data than ever before, yet there are no clear regulations on how these devices and data should be protected from theft or manipulation. As a result, many IoT devices are released with inadequate hardware or data security measures.
Whether it’s business pressures pushing unsecured devices and services towards the market, or a lack of IoT security expertise causing a security shortfall, it’s evident that best practices are still taking shape. Regulations will surely follow, and most IT decision makers and consumers agree that there should be regulations in place for IoT security. In fact, a recent survey of 1,500 IT decision makers and 10,500 consumers worldwide found that 96% of businesses and 90% of consumers feel IoT security should be regulated.
Before regulation can be put in place, however, a consensus needs to be reached on the best ways to secure IoT devices and the data they collect. Given the state of IoT security in business today and consumer expectations for new devices and services, organizations would be wise to proactively partner with IoT security experts to strengthen their defenses and adopt better security habits. Such partnerships, on top of protecting organizations from the huge losses associated with breaches, could even put businesses ahead of the regulatory curve, giving them a competitive advantage and forging stronger relationships with customers.
Fortunately, partnerships are already driving a significant amount of IoT activity. Almost all (95%) decision makers polled say that their organization partners with others to implement IoT devices or services, and on average they maintain partnerships with three IoT vendors. However, only 31% of those partnerships are aimed at securing the IoT. More often it’s cloud service providers (51%) or IoT service providers (50%) who are tapped for partnerships.
Security spending lags behind other categories in IoT budgets, too. For those organizations using or distributing IoT devices, decision makers reported spending only 11% of their budgets on security. That’s despite near-universal agreement among IT and business decision makers (97%) that security is a factor in consumer purchase decisions, and the lack of spending is made even more perplexing considering consumers’ readiness to voice their fears about IoT devices – 89% of those in the global survey said they were “fearful over the security of their data.”
So, why the gap between consumer demand for security, decision-makers understanding of that demand and actual spending?
Today, unfortunately, perceived costs and complexity often hamper efforts to secure IoT devices, networks or storage infrastructure. More than nine in ten decision makers (94%) polled in a recent study felt there were challenges to implementing security measures for their IoT deployments – most commonly citing costs of implementation (44%) and the large amounts of data being collected (39%) as the top challenges.
However, forecasts suggest that the IoT could more than double in size in the next two years, growing from roughly 10 to 20 billion connected devices by 2020. The challenges to security that decision makers face today are only set to grow as IoT ecosystems get more complex.
Forging partnerships with IoT security specialists today can help fortify the IoT before it gets even more complex, and IT decision makers should be able to justify some increases in security spending in a few different ways.
First, the costs of implementation may not be as large a barrier if organizations form smart partnerships with IoT security specialists. Almost half (44%) of IT decision makers say partnerships can drive down the costs associated with stronger security.
IT decision makers should also consider that partnerships can create cost efficiencies through collaboration. The 21% of survey respondents who said they don’t know how to identify IoT threats can be trained to be more effective in less time, or the 30% of decision-makers who cited a lack of external guidance as a challenge to IoT security can ask for recommendations on tools or even on training materials for employees.
Partnerships with IoT security specialists can also increase IT teams’ collaborative knowledge about the IoT and related security measures, helping them spend less time managing IoT security (a benefit cited by 35% of decision-makers) while still offering the business better protection against attacks that could cripple critical systems, bring heavy fines or send customers flocking away.
Finally, smarter security teams and stronger protections at the device and network levels can also have a positive effect on customer relationships. 37% of survey respondents said that partnerships with IoT security specialists have or would increase customer trust in IoT devices. Finding ways to foster trust is worth investment as consumer confidence in IoT products is likely to play an outsized role in success in the IoT market.
Businesses may be neglecting the importance of consumer confidence right now, however. If most consumers (90%) expect that security is built into their devices, but nearly the same proportion (89%) still worry about device security and 90% think the IoT should be regulated, the survey results seem to suggest that trust in IoT businesses is on shaky ground.
Perhaps, today at least, that consumer suspicion is well placed – only 57% of businesses reported using data encryption to protect all of the data collected through IoT devices, and only 33% said they felt they have complete control over the data they collect as it moves through their existing IoT ecosystems.
Strong partnerships with IoT security specialists can close this gap between consumer expectations and businesses’ readiness to protect their IoT devices and the data they collect. With nearly half of consumers using IoT devices – four per person, on average – strong security including hardware protections and encryption (for data at rest and in transit) will be critical to success in the IoT. Forging partnerships today can reduce the costs of catching up to customer expectations, can help businesses make more valuable products and might move the whole industry more quickly towards consensus on IoT security best practices that could become tomorrow’s regulatory requirements.
Chris Moorhead: In Chris’ 9 years with Gemalto, he has concentrated on the M2M/IoT industry to establish and grow relationships with Gemalto's cellular module and solution customers, with a focus on M2M pioneers and strategic partnerships in North America. Gemalto’s global culture and worldwide presence have provided Chris the opportunity to develop a truly international perspective of the M2M/IoT industry.
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