Trends, challenges, and opportunities in IoT deployment

Last updated: 15 April 2024

IoT deployment demands greater simplification, more orchestration, and the right level of security for each use case.

With a projection of over five billion cellular IoT connections expected by 2028, the world of IoT is growing at a rapid pace. But what are the core trends, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead?

In this article for Beecham Research, Remi de Fouchier, our vice president of strategy, marketing and innovation, recently sat down with Robin Duke-Woolley, the chief executive of Beecham Research, to share his response to the latest trends in IoT and how we’re helping organisations maximise their opportunities and address the challenges the market faces.
Watch the full video interview here.

Robin Duke-Woolley: There have been many projections about how the IoT market is growing. These include Ericsson’s projection of over five billion cellular IoT connections by 2028 and Omdia’s report that 83% of enterprises are deploying multiple IoT projects. Both of these point towards much larger and more varied IoT deployments over the next few years. Given this growth and context, what does Thales see as key trends that need greater support over the next few years?

Remi de Fouchier: Firstly, we share your enthusiasm and analyst view of the developing market. This is our view as well – this is a promising market. But more importantly than the volumes, what we think is that this is an addition of many different segments, verticals and use cases and that they will have specific requirements in terms of energy consumption, security, interoperability and scalability. Some of these key urgent items are already addressed by standardisation.

One of the important market evolutions that we see is that traditional OEMs are shifting from selling just a device to more of a service model and they want to enrich their hardware business with digital services. We can think of predictive maintenance, consumption, monitoring or data analysis and of course they also want to reduce as much as possible their carbon footprint, which is also a very strong objective for Thales.

Last but not least, by increasing the number of connected devices and the data they generate, the attack surface increases and security increases as well for security sensitive or privacy sensitive material. This is an important element that must be taken into account from the design of the device to the overall lifecycle of the data generation produced. We sometimes hear that security is considered to be expensive. Instead, it should be seen as an insurance that is protecting brands from potential heavy reputational and legal damages.

Robin: What would you see as the key challenges for enterprises when deploying IoT services?

Remi: We have the privilege of already collaborating with hundreds of OEMs and IoT service providers and we can group these challenges into three categories that we summarise around: Build, Run, Protect.

Build covers design. Run means production, deployment and maintenance. Protect encompasses continuous virtuous cybersecurity. And without a proper approach, each of those different steps presents challenges.

For Build, OEMs and IoT service providers need to stay in the driving seat in terms of connectivity choices and number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) – a horrible name for the number of variants of devices.

For Run, OEMs have complex logistics to serve different geographies, different markets during installation, during deployment, with onsite labour and with truck rolls for initial setup or to fix issues during the device lifecycle. In terms of deployment and coverage, cellular connectivity has many real benefits. That also explains the enthusiasm for this technology and the growth of the market.

For Protect, there is the cyber protection journey of connected devices from the production line to long lasting operations. It is not protect once, it is protect all along the full lifecycle of the device.

Robin: What is your approach to address these challenges?

Remi: We want to be absolutely solid in our product and service range to answer these challenges. First, on Build when designing your devices, we are proposing a range of industry grade, standardised future-proof hardware to securely connect these devices. It starts with MIM, which is a ruggedised SIM, and it evolves towards embedded and integrated SIM (eSIM and iSIM) which allow more flexibility to manage connectivity in the field.

For Run, our connectivity suite enables a secure, resilient and cost-effective connectivity from production through operations and this is what matters. With our solutions we want to help OEMs and IoT service providers to manage the initial connectivity with a fully automated, out-of-the box experience and then all across the device or service lifetime. To do this, we need to take account of certain situations where you will need to adapt your connectivity plan for best coverage, for best clarity, for flexibility and for sustainability. Lastly on Protect, we have our cyber protection suite to protect IoT device identity and data generated from the factory to the field and from the edge to the cloud.

Robin: From a Thales perspective, what are the opportunities arising in the new IoT specifications?

Remi: First let me start by saying that we have a clear view of the current pain points and unmet needs when deploying IoT projects which is due to our long experience working with customers from these issues and also being involved in the cellular and telecoms industry for a number of decades. Today IoT players that we meet, including IoT service providers, are keen to get simpler and more fluid solutions while protecting their devices and the data they generate and exchange through the lifetime of these devices.

The market requires more simplification, more orchestration and the right level of security for their needs. Thales is leading the progressive convergence towards what we call the consumer infrastructure approach, and it will make the ecosystem more fluid and simpler with pre-certified, pre-integrated components as well as reference designs. Our solutions can be plugged into the existing manufacturing process to provision the connectivity and security keys directly on the production line. Finally, the rule of the game will be to reach the best compromise between the optimised total cost of ownership (TCO) security and application of cyber protection to the requirements of each market segment.

Robin: How do you intend to position Thales in the IoT ecosystem? In other words, is there anything new that Thales is bringing?

Remi: Firstly, we have a long history with our customers, notably in the telecoms industry where we have 450 MNOs as our customers around the world. We are present in more than 68 countries, and we have hundreds of OEMs as customers who are already well equipped with our products. Secondly, the cybersecurity expertise that we have, that we’ve been building, is very strong. We are suppliers to the top 5 public cloud service providers, and you’ve probably heard that we’ve recently announced the acquisition of Imperva in the US and this will position us in terms of cybersecurity as a Tier 1 supplier of security and cybersecurity globally. Regarding 5G expertise as well, we have been leading the effort there. In a nutshell, we are simply your partner of choice to simplify your IoT deployments allowing you to remain in the driving seat at each step of your project and ensuring your devices are well connected and well-protected.

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