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What businesses need to know about the future of IoT

The IoT industry has experienced its fair share of hype in recent years, but it seems the industry is finally starting to follow through with some of the loftier expectations. Worldwide IoT spending is forecasted to reach $772.5 billion in 2018, according to a recent IDC study. Last year, the number of IoT devices outnumbered our global population, and over 4 billion business IoT devices are projected for 2018 alone, according to Gartner.

It’s clear that IoT has moved beyond the hype phase and has achieved mainstream adoption. With this in mind, here’s a look at how IoT will be refined and enhanced by companies in the coming months and years and what decision-makers should focus on while integrating this technology.

IoT convergence with AI and blockchain

IoT alone isn’t the transformative technology it was once projected to become. Instead, the convergence between IoT and emerging technologies, like AI, blockchain and fog computing, is the key to driving business value and transforming industries. Today, we’re beginning to see the initial results of this convergence where businesses are able to drive increased value from investments in IoT while overcoming previous obstacles like security, data analytics issues, costs and bandwidth.

AI and machine learning integration provide IoT business devices with the intelligence they need to act on the data they are producing, rather than operating as simply data producers. Fog computing makes scalability possible by extending cloud functionality to the edge, which helps resolve reliability, bandwidth and cost issues. IoT will rely on the continued refinement, advancement and integration of these new technologies to produce the results companies are looking for at the enterprise level. AI, IoT and fog computing have the potential to surpass their projected business potential, but they can only do so together which is why forward-thinking business will be focused on integrating them.

Adoption of IoT edge tech: Think sensors, platforms and predictive analytics

When it comes to IoT devices, the first devices that come to mind tend to be smart fridges, HVAC systems, like Nest, or virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. But when it comes to the future of IoT in business, companies are looking for more than savings on energy consumption or what their daily schedule looks like. Instead, the future of IoT in business will take shape in the form of intelligent sensors, platforms and autonomous, predictive analytics produced by bringing the advantages of cloud computing closer to where that data is being generated, aka the intelligent edge.

Currently, IoT sensors and devices rely on the connection to analytics and machine learning applications, which is only available through cloud service providers that have the computation and storage capacity required. Which means environments with time-critical constraints or poor internet connectivity aren’t currently feasible, given the time it takes for the cloud to receive the data, process it and respond in time.

The key to driving value through IoT is utilizing fog computing to close this gap and get us closer to producing and analyzing data at the edge, where it’s being collected. As tech advancements make this possible, expect sensors to move past simply recording data and instead actively analyzing and acting on that information without human intervention.

Enhanced prioritization on IoT security

One of the main challenges associated with IoT is the elevated security risk of managing connected devices. With dozens, hundreds or even thousands of sensors at work, businesses will be focused on ensuring the sensitive data being collected remains secure. Not only will security be an issue, but sending raw data over the internet can also have privacy and legal implications, especially with country-specific data regulations being adopted like the GDPR.

Microsoft recently acknowledged the risks of the brand’s further development within the internet of things, noting the multiple layers of IoT devices and solutions and how even the weakest layer can “impact the security of the whole system.” An increase in vulnerable connected devices sharing sensitive business data is a very real security threat in today’s climate of almost daily data breach reports and headlines. As companies work to better integrate IoT devices throughout various points in product development and business operations, there will be a renewed focus on prioritizing the security of these devices in the form of enhanced company-wide security trainings, expanded infosec teams, increased investments in IoT security technology and increased pressure from business on IoT manufacturers to strengthen security protocols.

Despite the ongoing security challenges, it seems IoT will finally be living up to its transformative reputation in the coming months. Expect tech leaders and major manufacturers to usher in this new, connected IoT era as forward-thinking businesses follow suit.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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