Nitin Rai
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Standardize. Connect. Communicate.

We have seen the concept of standardization gaining popularity in IT industries, where data exchange is on the rise. Industry participants aspire to develop standards to maximize compatibility and remain ahead of competition. In line with this, in February 2016, technology powerhouses such as Microsoft, Cisco, General Electric, Intel, and others announced their partnership to set up the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF). This is an open Internet of Things (IoT) standards group which aims to integrate standards and encourage innovation, with increased IoT device interoperability. The OCF is the latest of the consortiums set up by groups of technology leaders to standardize device communication protocols.

The Multiple Standards Dilemma

As we have seen in recent years, the ‘standards war’ between rival technology companies has been on the rise. Organizations with competing interests have set up proprietary systems to gain advantage through information and analytics. For instance, the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), launched in 2014, was in direct competition with the AllSeen Alliance. Although the playing field has been slightly levelled now, with many companies joining multiple standards organizations instead of only backing one, the race for standardization is still on.

Jumping on the Standardization Bandwagon: An Option or a Necessity?

In my recently published paper, I have introduced and discussed two types of IoT industry players. Primary participants are manufacturers or service providers who collate customer data and transmit it, while secondary participants are other manufacturers or service providers who work on this received information. There are two routes that can be taken to benefit from this connected IoT ecosystem. Participants could either exchange data or interchange information – that is, processed data.

For primary or secondary participants who choose to monetize their investments in the IoT through exchange of data alone, a standardization structure is critical, to ensure high market acceptance. These industry players need to decide their game plan now and get into ‘standardization mode’ to profitably sustain their RoI in IoT infrastructure. As technology investments are going to be high, it is advisable to make a choice upfront.

For those primary and secondary participants who are dealing with information exchange, however, standardization is not an immediate priority, as they leverage processed data. These industry players need not worry about the concept of standardization at this moment. They can wait and watch, and decide whether they need to adopt any standards.

Is standardization a priority for your organization? If so, how are you working towards it? Share your thoughts with us.


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