Connectivity by design, the future of IoT

Connected by Design
Sheila Zabeu -

July 07, 2023

The growing complexity of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology stack needs a new “Connected by Design” approach to put optimising connectivity at the heart of solution development. The warning was made in an article integral to the “Transition Topic Position Papers” series published by Transforma Insights and spons

The report examines the transition that is taking place in IoT solution implementations, which abandons approaches based on technologies developed without considering IoT characteristics and migrates to a “connected by design” approach, reflecting the unique attributes of the specific IoT use case and the complexity of combining the components involved, especially connectivity.

Connected-by-Design: Optimising Device-to- Cloud Connectivity
Source: Transforma Insights

Each IoT use case has unique deployment characteristics, whether they relate to access to power sources, bandwidth or latency, data volume, communication frequency, resilience, form factor or cost, among many others. In addition, it involves a complex technology stack, with sensors, operating systems, network resources, data management, integration with business processes, end-to-end security. And all of this needs to be managed across all devices, from edge to cloud.

Given also the specific constraints of each IoT use case, it is critical that elements of the stack are optimised according to the demands of the application. However, the report highlights that it is not enough to simply use individually optimised components, but to ensure that they are optimised together.

Considering this distributed nature of IoT, the study points out that connectivity is the central point and the most critical element in this cross-optimization. All other dependencies are secondary to connectivity. Therefore, it is recommended that developers adopt a “Connected by Design” approach to identify the best way to create a distributed application with appropriate features and functionality.

According to Eseye, the ideal way to build an IoT solution using “Connected by Design” principles is to permeate the entire development process with connectivity-related considerations, not just at the end.

“Many are familiar with the ‘Secure by Design’ concept, whereby security considerations directly influence the entire product design process. This ensures a much better framework than would result from a process that tries to override security at the end of the development process. The same applies to connectivity in the context of IoT. It is critical to have connectivity acting as a glue that binds the various elements of the stack, but there are many potential pitfalls. This means that connectivity cannot simply be bolted on to the solution after it has been developed and/or deployed. It must permeate the design process. Hence the term ‘Connected by Design’,” explains Larry Soch, senior vice president of strategy and product at Eseye.

The executive adds that while incorporating connectivity intelligence upfront contributes to flexibility and resilience and helps it ensure the survival of IoT solutions in the future, connectivity by design ideally uses a holistic approach in which all components of the solution are cross-optimised.

For example, inadequate design and management of an IoT device can have a serious impact on the way it functions and, consequently, the energy consumption required. Understanding connectivity requirements and how they affect energy efficiency is key. Thinking of a practical scenario to illustrate this consideration, consider how important it would be to select low-power connectivity options, such as NB-IoT and LTE-M, to maximize the battery life of devices for 10 to 15 years in a hard-to-reach facility.

The same reasoning applies to the connectivity coverage of IoT solutions. The closer the design gets to 100% connectivity, the better. The solution should seek to have access to the best available network capable of delivering very high-quality services. In addition, if the IoT project intends to expand to multiple geographical regions, roaming agreements and their respective limits and timeframes need to be considered. If these considerations are not made during the design phase, you run the risk of having additional charges or even devices blocked or disconnected from networks throughout your operation. In some countries permanent roaming is prohibited. Although in some locations around the world this type of roaming is allowed, you must remember that regulatory standards are always subject to change. Also, even if permanent roaming is not officially banned by governments, it can be blocked by local mobile operators at any time.

According to a recent report by Exactitude Consultancy, the IoT connectivity market is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 21% between 2023 and 2029, reaching a value of $25.1 billion by the end of the period.