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IoT & M2M

May 31, 2023

Maximizing Success: Challenges and Solutions for Satellite IoT Projects

According to consulting firm McKinsey the Internet of Things (IoT) could have a significant global impact – between $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion, annually – by 2025. Specifically focusing on IoT applications in business-to-business (B2B) settings, the report highlights several key areas where IoT can drive value; including improving operational efficiency, optimizing supply chain, and enabling new business models.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has already connected more than 14 billion devices globally. However, being a relatively new technology, it faces its fair share of challenges. According to a recent survey on IoT deployments, 58% of companies considered their projects unsuccessful. It’s worth noting that 50% of the surveyed companies were in the trial or pilot phase, providing valuable insights into identifying barriers to success. Encouragingly, the 2023 survey results show a significant 28% increase in success rates compared to the 2020 survey. Additionally, research from ABI indicates that satellite IoT projects have a slightly higher success rate, with approximately 50% of participants considering their projects successful.

As the adoption and success of IoT continue to accelerate, demonstrating a positive return on investment (ROI) becomes increasingly crucial. At Ground Control, we have the privilege of working on various IoT deployments across different industries. Our projects range from operators in the Oil and Gas sector seeking to minimize downtime, to utilities handling mission-critical data, and even those involved in telehealth through medical drone deliveries and remote nurse tracking. Drawing on our experiences, we have created this article to highlight the common challenges we often encounter and provide potential solutions to guide you toward success. But first… How to define IoT project success?

Defining IoT project success involves aligning project goals with overall objectives, setting specific and measurable key performance indicators (KPIs), and quantifying expected benefits and ROI. It is crucial to establish baselines, set targets, track progress, and analyze data against the defined metrics. In our experience, customers often focus on immediate challenges and short-term gains, which can result in scalability issues and difficulties in adapting to future needs. When embarking on an IoT installation, regular iteration and improvement are essential for achieving success. In short, for many IoT projects, success depends on companies taking a proactive approach.


5 common IoT deployment challenges and potential solutions to overcome them


  1. Security Concerns
  2. Reliable Connectivity
  3. Integration and Interoperability
  4. Analytics & Data Management
  5. Scaling Existing IoT Projects
Close-Up View of System Hacking in a Monitor

1. Challenge: Security Concerns

Security concerns pose a significant challenge within the vast IoT ecosystem. With a multitude of interconnected devices, there are numerous potential entry points for cyberattacks. Each connected device becomes a potential vulnerability that malicious actors can exploit. The immense volume of data generated and transmitted by IoT devices also raises significant privacy concerns. Protecting personal information and ensuring data security become paramount in this interconnected landscape.

From a technical standpoint, security emerges as the foremost obstacle in IoT deployments. As IoT solutions continue to evolve, security measures must advance as well. It is an ongoing and dynamic process that requires continuous improvement, presenting significant challenges.

These concerns are underscored by notable cyberattacks that have made headlines. For instance, in 2021, a cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline resulted in the temporary shutdown of 5,500 miles of pipeline. Not only did this impact national infrastructure, it also caused widespread gasoline shortages and price hikes. The hackers demanded a ransom of $5 million in Bitcoin, which Colonial Pipeline paid. In another example, an attempt was made to manipulate sodium hydroxide levels in Oldsmar, Florida’s water supply. Thankfully this was spotted by an employee before any damage was done. Furthermore, the ‘AcidRain‘ malware attack in 2022 caused severe and prolonged disruptions on a large scale. This attack targeted and disabled Viasat’s KA-SAT broadband service’s satellite modems, affecting thousands of users in Ukraine and across Europe.

Potential solutions: Secure network design and data encryption

Addressing the security concerns in IoT deployments requires a multi-layered approach to IoT security. Implementing secure network architectures, employing data encryption, practicing best access control practices, and leveraging private network solutions, all strengthen organizations overall security posture in IoT deployments.

Secure Network Architecture: A robust and secure network architecture is crucial in addressing IoT security concerns. Companies should design their networks with measures such as network segmentation, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. By dividing the network into segments and implementing firewalls and intrusion detection systems, the impact of potential breaches can be contained, and real-time threat identification and mitigation can be achieved.

Data Encryption: Protecting IoT data through encryption is paramount. Strong encryption algorithms and secure key management practices should be employed to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive information. By encrypting data at rest and in transit, organizations can significantly enhance the security of their IoT deployments.

Best Practice Access Control: Implementing best practices for access control and identity management is a simple yet effective way to strengthen IoT security. Regularly reviewing access privileges, promptly revoking access for former employees or compromised accounts, and monitoring for suspicious activities all contribute to an enhanced security posture, mitigating potential risks.

Private and Secure Networks: Depending on the nature of the data handled by an IoT application, a completely secure and private network may be necessary. Solutions like SCADASat provide secure, private networks for handling sensitive data, ensuring end-to-end security and protecting against unauthorized access.


2. Challenge: Reliable Connectivity

The increasing importance of IoT lies in its ability to collect and analyze vast amounts of data, providing real-time insights and actionable intelligence to businesses. But this data is wholly dependent on connectivity. Without a reliable means of transmitting data, the value of IoT diminishes. Obtaining a comprehensive view of operations is crucial for making informed business decisions. Fragmented data can lead to inaccurate insights, resulting in suboptimal business decisions.

At present, cellular coverage covers just 25% of the world’s landmass. Although the deployment of 5G networks is in progress and holds the potential to accommodate a greater number of devices, its shorter wavelengths result in reduced coverage range compared to its predecessor 4G. While cellular connectivity may meet the requirements for certain deployments, it poses challenges for businesses operating in remote areas where cellular signals are unreliable or unavailable. In fact, an overwhelming 75% of companies encountered connectivity difficulties when testing IoT projects in such environments.

Engineers working on cell tower

Potential solutions: Expand connectivity portfolio and redundant network architectures

Diversifying your connectivity portfolio is a key solution to consider. By embracing multiple connectivity technologies such as cellular, satellite, and LPWAN, organizations can establish a robust network infrastructure that can withstand disruptions. This approach allows for continuous data transmission, minimizes the impact of network outages, and provides cost optimization. For instance, integrating satellite connectivity alongside LoRaWAN has become increasingly popular. In this setup, sensors transmit data to a hub via LoRaWAN, which optimizes the data payload to reduce transmission costs. The hub then utilizes cellular networks when available and switches to satellite connectivity when LTE is not accessible.

Implementing redundant network architectures is another effective strategy. By establishing backup systems and redundant connections, organizations create alternative pathways for data transmission, mitigating the risk of single points of failure. This redundancy enhances the reliability of the IoT network, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity even during network disruptions. In fact, one of our largest clients rely on satellite as their third failover option (after cellular and fiber). In 27 years they have experienced no failures and consider satellite their most reliable connectivity.

Regular maintenance also plays a vital role in sustaining reliable connectivity. Conducting routine inspections, monitoring network performance, and performing necessary updates and maintenance tasks enable proactive identification and resolution of potential issues – helping ensure continuous and smooth operation of the IoT network.


3. Challenge: Integration and Interoperability

IoT projects encounter hurdles in achieving interoperability and integration across devices and systems. Inconsistent protocols, standards, and proprietary technologies create barriers to seamless data exchange and collaboration. These challenges result in data fragmentation, scalability limitations, and increased complexity in managing integrated IoT environments.

The integration and interoperability of both hardware and software systems within IoT projects can pose significant challenges. Achieving seamless connectivity and collaboration between several, often diverse devices and software platforms can be a complex task. The lack of consistent protocols, standards, and proprietary technologies creates obstacles to seamless data exchange and collaboration. These hurdles lead to data fragmentation, limitations in scalability, and increased complexity in managing integrated IoT environments.

Potential solutions: APIs, middleware and gateway devices

Despite the presence of promising and exciting developments, achieving seamless interoperability – encompassing both device and connectivity aspects – is likely to take between five and ten years. As a result, many companies will still need to rely on the use of multiple SIM cards and/or devices to establish a functional network for their IoT deployments. However, open standards and protocols play a vital role in addressing the challenges of interoperability and integration today. By embracing open standards, organizations can ensure compatibility and smooth communication between different IoT devices and systems.

Moreover, the implementation of robust APIs facilitates seamless integration by enabling efficient data exchange and interoperability across diverse components. Additionally, the utilization of middleware solutions and gateway devices serves as a bridge between incompatible technologies, enhancing the overall interoperability and integration capabilities of IoT systems.

4. Challenge: Analytics & Data Management

Data management and analytics present crucial obstacles in IoT initiatives. The sheer magnitude and variety of data generated by connected devices make the task of collecting, storing, processing, and extracting meaningful insights a daunting one. Organizations face difficulties in managing the velocity and real-time processing demands of IoT data. Additionally, guaranteeing data quality, integrity, and security across diverse data sources poses another significant challenge. Furthermore, as the number of devices and data sources grows, scalability issues come into play, necessitating robust solutions to handle the expanding data ecosystem.

On screen data analytics graph

Potential Solutions: Data analytics tools and machine learning algorithms

To overcome data management and analytics challenges in IoT projects, organizations can embrace comprehensive data management platforms. These platforms enable efficient data collection, integration, and storage from various sources, guaranteeing data quality and dependability. By utilizing advanced analytics tools, organizations gain the capability to process and analyze IoT data with efficiency and effectiveness, extracting valuable insights for informed decision-making.

Moreover, the integration of machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics can identify patterns and drive actionable intelligence. Leveraging these technologies appropriately empowers companies to derive true value from their data and maximize the potential value of their IoT deployments.

Engineer planning

5. Challenge: Scaling Existing IoT Projects

As an IoT project scales, all the previously outlined challenges become more pronounced and require attention. Associated costs of scaling can be substantial, encompassing expenses related to hardware, connectivity, data storage, and maintenance. Managing and maintaining the project becomes increasingly complex and costly as the number of devices and systems grows.

Battery life and power consumption present significant challenges in scaled IoT projects. With more devices consuming power, effectively managing power consumption and extending battery life become crucial considerations.

Scaling amplifies challenges in data interoperability, security, and management. Ensuring interoperability and compatibility between devices and systems becomes more intricate as the number of devices increases. Robust security measures must be implemented to safeguard against the escalating risks of security breaches. Additionally, managing and processing the vast amounts of data generated by IoT devices poses a significant challenge, necessitating suitable infrastructure and tools for efficient data handling.

Potential Solutions: Prioritise scalable architecture and leverage edge computing

Scale often exposes the limitations of in-house server infrastructure for IoT applications. Cloud infrastructure for IoT encompasses not only traditional data processing and storage services but also gateway services that facilitate data collection and device interaction. These gateway services include HTTP/MQTT servers and WebSocket servers. When designing cloud infrastructure for IoT, scalability becomes a crucial factor. As the device count increases, the cloud infrastructure must seamlessly scale alongside it. IoT cloud platforms offered by leading providers such as AWS, Azure, GCP, or Macrometa deliver robust and scalable solutions.

Implementing edge computing can alleviate the burden on centralized cloud infrastructure and enhance scalability. By performing data processing and analysis at the network’s edge, closer to the IoT devices, latency can be reduced, bandwidth requirements can be minimized, and overall system performance can be improved. Devices such as the RockREMOTE are able to accommodate this, but not all terminals boast this functionality.

Furthermore, it is essential to evaluate network providers that can support your scaling requirements and ensure seamless connectivity across your IoT ecosystem. Consider solutions like low-power, wide area networks (LPWAN) or satellite connectivity, as they offer extended range and scalability.

To address the challenges of increased power consumption, companies can explore energy-efficient IoT devices, implement power-saving features such as sleep modes, and employ power management techniques to prolong battery life. Moreover, alternative power sources such as solar (in which case, the Iridium Edge Solar could be a good fit) or kinetic energy can play a crucial role in achieving long-term sustainability.

Security should always be a top priority, but it becomes even more crucial when scaling IoT projects. Companies can strengthen security by adopting a multi-layered approach. This includes incorporating encryption techniques, implementing secure authentication protocols, and conducting regular security audits. Secure coding practices should be followed, and ongoing training should be provided to enhance security awareness and ensure compliance with industry best practices.

While the list provided above is not exhaustive, it serves to emphasize the importance of maintaining a proactive approach. Recognizing the dynamic nature of IoT and the valuable insights gained during pilot phases, organizations can overcome obstacles and fully leverage the vast potential offered by IoT deployments. By remaining adaptable and embracing the evolving landscape of IoT, businesses can position themselves for success and unlock the numerous opportunities presented by this transformative technology. And as ever, if you are facing challenges in your own IoT deployment and would like some no pressure advice, simply contact our team

Take charge of your IoT deployment

At Ground Control, we specialize in helping businesses achieve IoT success. With extensive experience across various industries worldwide and expertise in connectivity solutions, we're well-equipped to support your IoT endeavors. Fill in the form below to get expert guidance from our team.