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Challenges Faced By The CIOs In The Integration Of IoT In Their Operations

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Challenges Faced By The CIOs In The Integration Of IoT In Their Operations

Prem Rodrigues, Director - Sales & Marketing, Middle East, India & SAARC, Siemon

A certified RCDD (Registered Communications Distribution Designer), Prem started his tenure with Siemon in 2010. In his 19 years of career, Prem has worked at various organizations in the Middle East, handling diverse roles and projects.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly evolving and bringing new opportunities for its stakeholders. A NASSCOM report predicts that the IoT market in India is poised to become $15 billion by 2020, accounting for five percent of the global market. The increase of affordable devices, smart solutions, big data analytics, automation, and cloud computing will only help the growth of the IoT market in India. The growth we have seen in terms of increase in digital footprint in the last few years is astonishing and is very promising for companies operating within the ICT industry.

Established companies and startups alike now have lots of opportunities to bring something new to the table for the consumer. The NASSCOM report also says that there are nearly 120 firms offering solutions in the IoT segment, and that number will only increase.

Many niche segments are emerging such as connected houses & buildings and embedded homes or offices. Healthcare, manufacturing and education verticals are leading the adoption. But as the market grows, decision makers, especially CIOs, face lot of challenges to overcome.

A cultural change is needed in business so that people are encouraged to evaluate new ideas and are rewarded for the same. Lack of awareness and conservative company cultures restrict people from thinking differently about their buildings and processes in general. Different does not always mean bad. Yes, change in processes and responsibilities are challenging, but it can bring measurable rewards for the organization.

IoT and Intelligent buildings are bringing a wide range of low-voltage building systems together like Wi-Fi, access control, consumer durables, audio-visual (AV), video surveillance, distributed antenna systems (DAS), lighting, and building automation systems under IP so that they can communicate with each other. This convergence requires a common cabling infrastructure so that different devices and systems no longer act in silos. Companies can gain significant capital and operational savings with sustainability over the life of the facility. But CIOs must be clear about the present and future devices
which will come under a converged system and what type of cabling infrastructure is needed to achieve this. The organization should see that power delivery using low-voltage cabling and power over Ethernet (PoE) technology greatly reduces cost per device. Disparate proprietary platforms are decreasing, and they are getting flexibility and better information sharing for control and management.

Securing IoT channels from hackers is another challenge which may come-up. Although a bit hyped, cybersecurity can be correctly addressed by identifying the specific systems and topologies, as this is a strategic decision. When we talk to our end users about IoT adaptation, this has frequently been one of the concerns they bring-up. If consistency is not maintained while embedding security into the endpoint devices, head end and network path than this might bring some challenges. As such, end-to-end security must be incorporated in all connected building solutions. Proper encryption and coding must be achieved across all systems, which can be managed via wireless-based communication and installers with experience in TCP/IP should be well versed in these security protocols. The IT department should clearly define user usage and access and set-up internal process for better management.

Lowering the installation cost, leveraging PoE using low-voltage platform, lowering the energy cost and running the building at optimal efficiency should be required, and a CIO must plan for all these while deciding their IoT strategy. Also, it would be key that proprietary software controls are eliminated, which prevents building owner/user from being vendor locked.

PoE-based devices need a reliable cabling infrastructure. Although cabling infrastructure constitutes a fraction of the overall cost and is often not given enough emphasis, it is the foundation for connecting and enabling communication for all types of low-voltage devices. IoT devices need a higher level of bandwidth and mechanical reliability due to the high temperatures generated in PoE systems. Category 6A shielded cables qualified to 75° C deliver reliable 10 Gig performance and better heat dissipation to support higher power IEEE 802.3bt Type-3 and Type-4 PoE.

IoT can simplify businesses and create a more useful environment, enabling healthier, happier and more productive environments for employees. But it is essential that CIOs plan for IoT strategy during early phases of their projects, including all the stakeholders who would be involved, like builders, architects, designers, system integrator, vendors and OEMs. And most importantly, they must keep an open mind; think differently in achieving convergence and integration of building systems, while delivering performance and bandwidth to support present and future IoT technologies. Although there will be some high input cost to start with, over the life of the building, cost saving and benefits will far exceed such initial costs and business will achieve their return on investment. As IoT ecosystem matures, the cost for devices and solutions will also reduce, which should make adoption of IoT easier.

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