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2016: A look back at the year of the internet of things

As we prepare to say goodbye to another calendar year, I am often asked about my thoughts on the previous year and predictions for the upcoming one. While I don’t fancy myself a fortune teller, I am always happy to have the discussion. Taking a look back at 2016, I thought I would shed some light on the really great milestones we as an industry had this year. So IoT — this was your life in 2016:

Standards are becoming more important than ever

2016 was a huge year for IoT, but many industry folks thought that we’d see much more standardization than we did. As we close out this year, however, we are leaving it with a sense that standards are going to become more important than many of us imagined. If you think about it, the real promise of IoT is that everything can and will be connected. For example, your smart door lock, once engaged, can tell the lights to shut off and the thermostat to set itself to the preprogrammed temperature. With this in mind, having a bevy of standalone products that won’t work across platforms is going to make it hard for IoT to realize its true potential. We saw encouraging movement with Thread, Zigbee and other standard organizations in 2016, and I expect to see even more in 2017.

A clearer IoT landscape is beginning to form

Entering 2016, most IoT vendors were lumped into one broad category, but one thing I can say about this year is that we did see a bit more clarity in the landscape with some specialties starting to emerge. For example, GE is staking its claim as a leader in industrial IoT, AWS and Microsoft Azure are creating IoT tool kits that can be used to develop custom solutions, and with Xively, LogMeIn is focused on IoT connected product management. While I don’t believe the market is as clear as it needs to be, I have hope that 2017 will continue the momentum.

IoT moved from exploration to execution

Last year we dubbed 2016 the year IoT went from exploration to execution. It moved beyond the hype and is actually becoming a true reality. Major companies are doubling down on their IoT efforts in hopes to take advantage of everything IoT promises. The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show was a really good example of that coming true. Thousands of product companies brought new connected products to market, proving that many companies are fulfilling their initial IoT plans. At Xively, we saw many of our customers’ products hit store shelves this year and we are seeing many more customers looking for guidance on how to get their connected businesses up and running.

In 2016, IoT security got everyone’s attention

It’s no secret that security breaches this year dominated many IoT conversations. While the most recent security stories focused on older IoT devices like routers and DVRs, it was definitely enough to get the whole industry talking. And though I don’t believe these conversations were enough to shake consumer confidence or affect business decisions to offer connected products, it certainly pushed security up to the top of the priority list (as it should be).

IoT data identified as the real value driver

When many start out on an IoT journey, the focus is simply about getting a product connected. 2016 was the first year that the value of IoT data really became the star of the show. Being able to collect, manage and make data actionable became a core requirement for anyone building a connected business. Knowing who the customers are and how they are using the products is paramount to creating positive customer experiences that will make customers want to return, keep revenues streams up and keep the connected product marketplace from being a bunch of short-lived gadgets. While that statement has always been true, this year was the year it truly became common knowledge.

As I look back on this year, I am very proud and encouraged by the milestones that occurred. 2016 was a year of growth and great maturity for IoT. It was the year it really started making a play for the mainstream. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.

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