Aug 13, 2018Internet of Things (IoT) predictions dominated tech media headlines at the start of the year. Pundits speculated how much progress would be made along the adoption curve as more devices with embedded intelligence flooded the market. And while past years were thought to be about experimentation and pilot purgatory, 2018 was assumed to be the year in which the IoT delivered on its much hyped promise.
So, how has the IoT faired? It is certainly having a significant impact on the economy, with IDC predicting spending will reach $1.1 trillion in 2021. But it remains in the early stages of experimentation as companies struggle to define concrete strategies for their IoT deployments. They are wrestling with challenges from jumping into the IoT waters too soon without a clear vision of the goal or a view of the unexpected complexities these projects can bring. One thing is certain: the IoT is far from a passing technology fad.
Here are the top five trends we're following in the Internet of Things, which we expect will drive both growth and interest throughout the last half of 2018 and beyond:
1. More data, more problems:
The ultimate double-edged sword for the IoT is the treasure trove of data gathered and what to do with it all. Each new connected device, from familiar ones like autonomous cars and smart cit- applications to new ones like brainwave detection and rodent traps, come with a new set of data to capture, catalogue, prioritize, and ultimately use and react to. Figuring out how to handle and analyze all of this data is where Artifical Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are starting to gain traction. However, what we hope to see are concrete examples of AI serving up real value to users, rather than the IoT continuing to be dominated by bright, shiny new objects with no clear return on investment (ROI).
2. The edge is becoming the hottest new battlefield for network dominance:
All of this data is driving an immediate need for new computing models to process it. While the cloud will continue to act as a central hub to store the massive amount of data being pushed out every second, edge computing has emerged as a silver bullet to draw quick and actionable insights from that data, closer to where it is being created. Being able to process critical data in real time will help companies to not only cut costs but reduce network usage and improve operational efficiencies in environments in which seconds matter. We've already seen a bevy of edge solutions flood the market in 2018, from almost every notable hardware vendor. Expect to see even more as we hit the back half of the year; evidence of this is a market prime for more investment from those jockeying for position to lead it.
3. The IIoT is beginning to show definitive ROI in some verticals:
Manufacturing and other industrial industries are seeing significant adoption of the IoT as Industry 4.0 moves from concept to reality—and it is changing the way a wide range of verticals do business. We're seeing smart factories use sensors to track assets, and oil and gas rigs deliver readings within seconds from rugged and remote locations where resources and bandwidth are traditionally limited. Those who adopted connected technologies early are seeing the payoff in terms of reduced equipment downtime, energy consumption, new levels of automation and better operational efficiency. During the second half, we expect to see the ROI from these industrial apps become even more plentiful and concrete as traditionally siloed IT and OT teams work together to squeeze every ounce of value out of their new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) deployments on the plant floor.
4. Blockchain promises a new foundation to support connections:
While blockchain is synonymous with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, it's promising an entirely new way to view and manage the IoT. At its heart, blockchain enables new ways for data to be stored, recorded and distributed with a promise of better security. And for IoT applications and platforms, which are highly distributed and decentralized, blockchain delivers a foundational infrastructure that could allow devices to transfer data back and forth via a reliable, scalable and time-stamped digital handshake. While the combination of these two technologies will no doubt present a host of legal and compliance issues, we're starting to see more synergies arise as companies explore the security and tracking benefits blockchain can offer for the IoT. We don't expect big moves with this yet, as no one has cracked the security code for the IoT, let alone the blockchain code.
5. Security moves beyond data to protect against imminent danger:
In 2018, you no longer have to go to the movies to hear about a worst-case scenario. Alexa reaches out to your co-worker on her own, Cortana allows hackers to change your password, and Siri reads private notifications out loud—and that's just the personal assistants. From vehicle systems being remotely manipulated to medical devices sending or reacting to misinformation, the IoT can mean a scary world. Look for more incidents to be made public and a brand-new crop of vendors—from existing network and security companies to large and small services providers—to jockey for position to help companies get on an even playing field with malicious hackers.
So is the Internet of Things poised to have a breakout moment as we look to the second half of the year? Probably not. But it will persist steadily in its momentum, delivering solutions to help us solve our biggest IT problems while ushering in an entirely new way to do business.
Anastasia Efstratios is the VP of Boston-based technology and healthcare PR firm LPP. She has more than 20 years of industry experience consulting and leading teams for flagship brands across the technology sector.