2016 was the year that IoT went mainstream. Connected devices are no longer the stuff of industry expert conversations or surprising national news stories; consumers have begun to welcome them into their homes in the form of devices like Amazon’s Alexa.
2017 promises to be the year that we see this acceptance and appetite drive significant evolution, with the smart home market alone predicted to grow to more than 1.4 billion units by 2021, up from 224 million in 2016.
I look forward to many of these innovations being launched at this year’s Internet of Things World later this month. Having worked closely with market leaders and innovators in the IoT ecosystem to bring together this year’s agenda, I wanted to share my thoughts on what the five biggest trends in IoT we should be expecting to come to fruition over the remainder of the year.
1. Security will be of paramount importance — With so many IoT-focused DDoS attacks hitting the headlines over the last 12 months, the vulnerability of a broad, distributed and heterogeneous network of connected devices has become apparent. It’s forcing vendors and leading service providers to join forces to address issues and breaches. Highlighting security capabilities is likely to become a more prominent selling point, especially for those purporting to offer end-to-end IoT solutions.
2. The formation of more strategic partnerships — The end of last year saw several big names announce strategic partnerships to generate new value for their customers and, in turn, themselves. Bosch and SAP announced they’d be aligning their respective cloud and software expertise around IoT, while Cisco said it would be building an intelligent network tailor-made for the IoT market and then allow all of its channel partners to tie in to it. We’ll certainly be seeing more announcements like these over the course of 2017 as organizations team up to open up more opportunities to learn and earn.
3. Better use of big data and machine learning to unlock new opportunities — The real value of IoT is, of course, in the data produced. According to McKinsey, IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025 — if analyzed and used correctly. Over the forthcoming months we’ll start to see further integration of IoT data streams with AI and machine learning engines in order to do so. We’ll also see a shift towards enabling processing and analytics to the IoT network edge, minimizing the need to transport large amounts of data back to the network core before triggering an action or alert.
4. Public sector services start to make IoT waves — Last September, the White House announced a $160 million Smart Cities Initiative funding pot to help communities tackle challenges and improve services through IoT. This is the year that we’ll start to see public sector services make use of that money and make IoT waves. The City of Chicago is already starting to make positive progress with its Array of Things project, whereby it is using connected sensors to measure data on air quality, climate and traffic to act as a “fitness tracker” for the city. Similarly, the District of Columbia has multiple IoT-based projects underway. The most public of these projects are participating in the Global Cities Team Challenge sponsored by US Ignite and the NIST Cyber-Physical Systems Group. Both organizations will be talking about their latest work at this year’s IoT World in May.
5. Leaning on developers to drive innovation — With so much potential to be gleaned from connected devices, enterprises are naturally quick to want to develop an innovative strategy. But as always with technology, their success depends hugely on their understanding and ability to implement. Enterprises will start to realize the value of involving developers more strategically in these efforts, making concerted efforts to reach out to them and make more of their expertise and “startup spirit.” We’re already seeing regular IoT hackathons from established players like Intel and Google, but this will start to infiltrate non-tech sectors.
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