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The internet of things in 2018: Five trends for the year to come

It’s clear that the internet of things is transforming the business world in every industry — from giving companies the ability to track systems remotely, to providing doctors with patient data in real time, to automating building maintenance systems and more. As the technology has evolved over time, adoption among businesses has skyrocketed. In fact, according to research from Gartner, 8.4 billion connected things will be in use by the end of the year. It’s a sign that companies around the world are recognizing IoT’s potential to provide sophisticated data insights, better engage customers and employees, and ultimately drive business growth.

As 2017 comes to a close and we begin to look ahead to next year, there are five key IoT trends business leaders and IT teams should consider, no matter where they fall on the IoT adoption curve. These trends will impact how and where organizations implement IoT, which IoT technologies they adopt and how the technology will be integrated into existing systems and services.

Here are the trends businesses should watch for in 2018.

IoT will drive business transformation

Companies that have adopted IoT see the technology as mission-critical to their business. These companies are leading the way when it comes to digital transformation initiatives. According to Vodafone’s “IoT Barometer 2017/18” (registration required), 74% of companies that have adopted IoT agree that digital transformation is impossible without it. The businesses that implement IoT systems in the next year will have a clear advantage over competitors when it comes to evolving their digital capabilities.

LPWAN technologies will open up the IoT market

IoT adopters have great expectations for the future of the technology, and new connectivity options like low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) are making innovation possible. LPWAN technologies, like Narrowband IoT, allow for increased network coverage over a wide area at a low cost, making them an ideal technology for adding connectivity in hard-to-reach places. According to the analyst firm Analysys Mason, once there is greater awareness and understanding of LPWAN, there will be a new wave of growth in this area. LPWAN technologies will begin to open the IoT market to applications that have not previously benefitted from connectivity.

IoT will become central to enterprise IT functions

Today, most major enterprises have already integrated IoT into their core systems and initiatives to drive digital businesses. We will continue to see connectivity become part of the enterprise IT fabric — in fact, within five years, IoT will be core to millions of business processes. In the future, companies may even take for granted that devices and appliances like vehicles and HVAC systems can be controlled and monitored remotely, thanks to IoT connectivity.

Companies will be increasingly confident in IoT security products

As with any new technology, security remains a top concern when it comes to IoT. However, businesses with large IoT implementations are becoming more confident, given that they have the expertise and resources necessary to tackle security concerns. These organizations will begin to see these security measures as enablers that give them the confidence to push business forward. As the technology matures, trust in IoT-enabled applications and devices will only continue to grow.

Businesses will see unexpected benefits from IoT adoption

Companies that integrate IoT products and services will see a number of benefits from the technology. The benefits go way beyond just enabling better data collection and business insights. IoT will be seen as a driver of improvements across businesses — organizations are already using IoT to reduce risk, cut costs, create new revenue streams, improve employee productivity, enhance customer experience and more. Businesses are likely to see even more benefits as they implement the technology across operations.

IoT is rapidly becoming part of the fabric of IT infrastructure, moving from a “nice to have” technology to a critical asset. Businesses that take these trends into account when considering, building and deploying IoT capabilities over the next year are likely to realize the many benefits the technology can offer to the enterprise.

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