Cisco is a founding member and director of the fifth Internet of Things standards body to be formed within the last 18 months.

The Wireless IoT Forum, formed in March, is the second group founded by Cisco, focused on interoperability in an increasingly connected world.

Standards debate is getting in the way of IoT progress ©iStock/Rzoz19

It also helped create the Industrial Internet Consortium with GE, IBM and Intel last year.

Other consortia in the mix include the Linux Foundation’s AllSeen Alliance in 2013; Google and Samsung’s Thread and the Open Interconnect Consortium launched by Intel, Samsung and Broadcom.

Local initiatives include the UK’s Hypercat, which is a core standard group leading the work being done to make Milton Keynes’ the UK’s 'smartest city', for example.

Cisco’s latest venture, however, is working on accelerating adoption of wireless WAN technologies dedicated to the IoT market. It includes Accenture, Arkessa, BT Telensa and WSN amongst its influencers.

This lack of loyalty to one common manufacturing standard for connected devices, as well as communication tools like WAN technologies, is one of the barriers holding back mass adoption in the UK, Europe and America.

While many manufacturers like Electrolux, Phillips and Bosch are developing a range of connected products, experts believe the IoT will only have reached critical mass when third-parties are able to connect to these products and offer new services.

For example, in the case of a washing machine, servicing firms could be alerted when a machine is about to break down, or a comparison site could push offers to the machine owner when their device reaches the end of its life.

But it seems difficult to imagine this happening if new groups creating new standards or regulations pop up every few months.

Standards groups have been in place for a number of years, with many manufacturers and software and hardware vendors effectively “sitting on the fence” so as not to miss out on any innovation or create bad blood between partners.

An American semi-conductor firm, responsible with fitting many of the biggest car brands with their technology, spoke to Techworld about the disparity amongst standards groups.

Freescale is part of Google’s Thread amongst others, as it believes its technology works well within the embedded wireless solutions it is trying to push as a standard format.

Peter Highton, Freescale's head of motorsport and automotive development, said: “The bigger these groups get, the slower these standards start to appear in terms of iterations.

"There are a lot of people pulling in different directions and not necessarily because they are competing but because they have markets that are different to others in very different places. Although we like to get in early to get one standard established and then make key decisions; over the years, as more people join, you find that unfortunately the decision making slips.”

Competition has caused issues in standardisation within the big data world, with Hortonworks, SAP and IBM's favoured Hadoop kernel, packaged within the Open Data Consoritum, accused of pushing out rival distributor Cloudera

The latest standards group Wireless IoT forum is, like its predecessors, planning to remove fragmentation and drive consolidation around a minimal set of standards for both license and license-exempt wireless, and to develop a set of requirements for end users and development partners. With more than five IoT consortia, this may prove difficult.

"The IoT market is gathering significant momentum around the globe, with new technologies and use cases being announced daily," said the group’s CEO William Web in a statement.

"However the risk presented by fragmentation remains very real. Without widely-agreed open standards we risk seeing pockets of proprietary technology developing independently, preventing the benefits of mass-market scale. We are delighted today to be announcing our inaugural membership and to begin work to drive towards a collective view on the right way to deliver widespread IoT services."

Aidan Quilligan, managing director at Accenture Digital added: "The IoT is growing at an unrelenting pace, but it's important that the entire ecosystem co-operates around open standards in order for it to reach its full potential.

“That's why it's important that the Forum works with key ecosystem members from the start, in order to create the right conditions for the mass market, without duplicating the work being done by existing standards bodies. Open standards represent the only way to begin the process of overcoming fragmentation in the IoT, and as part of the Forum, we will help drive this forward."

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