IoT devices are around us in every direction we’d care to look. These devices are helping doctors monitor patients from far away continents, assisting factory floor managers in identifying assembly line parts that will need maintenance in the coming few days, and monitoring vehicle performance and driving improvements in prototypes. IoT technologies are re-shaping customer journeys in unimaginable personalized ways, helping businesses explore whole new vistas of business growth and service delivery. 2017 was an exciting year that witnessed the adoption of IoT technologies by all kinds of businesses. As we move into 2018, here’s a guide to help you identify the IoT trends that will make the buzz throughout the year.
Rapid IoT Growth Will Continue
Though this might sound ridiculously obvious, the trend deserves a mention nevertheless. That’s because some very specific industries and business processes stand to be transformed for the better by IoT devices in the very near future. Among these, retail is at the top, with smart devices already helping companies explore new service delivery and revenue generation channels. Healthcare and industrial supply chain are the other two industries where IoT is on the brink of bringing in revolutionary changes. Wearable devices for round the clock patient monitoring in health-care, and use of stock quality monitoring IoT technology in industrial supply chains are already a reality. Throughout 2018, we will witness more and more processes and applications bring driven by IoT devices and technologies in industries apart from retail.
Fragmentation as an opportunity as well as challenge
Much like what we observed in cloud computing software as a service (SaaS) space throughout 2011-2015, IoT service vendors will be driven by the need to differentiate. The result – there will be a wave of fragmentation sweeping across the industry. Though the availability of niche IoT players will benefit SMBs, enterprises will have to face the challenge of working with multiple vendors under multiple contracts for the execution of their IoT strategy. Compatibility issues will hit companies in abundance as they try to make things work with multiple IoT systems, all of which might not be made with a view to integrating with other systems. Industry giants, thankfully, realize this problem and are already calling out for standardization in IoT technology protocols. Qualcomm, for instance, is vocal about the potential security challenges that fragmented IoT infrastructures could imply. In 2018, it will be interesting to note whether any serious work gets done as far as standardization of IoT technologies is concerned.
Fragmentation Will Increase Concerns Around IoT Security
A vendor for predictive maintenance algorithms, another for data analytics, yet another from edge computing infrastructure, and still another for smart visual reporting – that’s not a far-fetched reality, and something that enterprises are likely to encounter and experience in 2018. Of course, this makes the IoT ecosystem very complex. The long-term integration challenges that such a complex system brings to the table are hard to appreciate and understand well after the implementation phase of IoT projects. Also, so many moving parts of your IoT vehicle mean that the threat surface area increases. In such a situation, the art of ensuring thorough system security and data privacy becomes a challenge for enterprises. This calls for IT leads to work in close conjugation with the CISO office, to anticipate and address compatibility, privacy, and security challenges for IoT systems.
Low Power Wide Area Network As a Growth Driver
Low power – Wide area network (LP-WAN) technology is advancing at rapid pace. This technology is all about enabling wide area network connectivity across a large area, without using much power. The impact of opening up newer markets and applications for IoT could be huge. Traditionally, the business processes and applications that have not been considered for IoT powered transformations because of lack of affordable internet connectivity, will be open and relevant for IoT projects once LP-WAN projects start getting commissioned at a commercial scale.
The Availability of SaaS-based IoT offerings
In spite of the rapid leaps made by IoT technology vendors in the past couple of years, implementations remain mostly on-premise. This makes the cost of entry from SMBs and small enterprises prohibitively high. However, there has been clear progress in SaaS-based IoT services, and the market is all set to expand throughout 2018.
For enterprises, this means that they can commission small IoT projects without spending a lot. Whether you wish to get started with localized telemetry data analysis or want a machine learning expert to help you draw out tremendous insight from your data lakes, you will have a SaaS-based IoT service to consider in 2018.
Device firmware, server-side scripts, different connectivity and communication technologies, machine learning – this is just the starting point. Instead of managing all this complexity on your premise, you’d want to consider affordable and scalable SaaS alternatives.
The Increasing Importance of Edge Computing
IoT means massive data. And the success of IoT projects invariably depends on the speed, accuracy, and costs of data processing. Among these, the speed of processing is crucial for certain important IoT applications such as unmanned areal vehicles. For all these, it’s important to perform data analytics close to the source of data, so that propagation delay to and from the central analytics engine and database.
To achieve this, edge computing is a practical option for enterprises. IoT leaders like Dell, HPE, and Cisco, for instance, are already investing in edge computing infrastructure. Of course, all the buzz around edge computing as a successor to cloud computing is mere hype, because both infrastructures need to co-exist for enterprises to be able to realize IoT projects with low latency tolerance.
A Business Insider report suggests that business spending on IoT will be $6 trillion by 2021. Expect 2018 to be a milestone year in this roller coaster of a journey. Track the trends mentioned in this guide to make quick and smart moves for your enterprise.
Author : Rahul Sharma