Pay attention to Forrester, and the IoT is on its way out.
The term, that is – not the technology. The analyst has predicted that in 2019, the sales and marketing language in this dynamic space will move away from the Internet of Things, and focus more heavily on business solutions and tangible actions and outcomes. We can already see it happening, with a transition towards talking about connected products, real-time monitoring or management and of course the ever-present smart.
The reason this is happening – and certainly looks set to continue in 2019 – is that the IoT landscape is maturing, and a basic understanding of what it looks like and the benefits it can engender is spreading. IoT innovators are no longer having to start by educating their potential customers on what the IoT actually is; they can focus instead on the data they can capture, the insights they can generate and the genuine business improvements they can enable.
The IoT landscape has matured enormously throughout 2018, and this trajectory looks set to continue throughout 2019. IT Pro Portal has suggested that more than 3.6 billion devices are now connected to the internet, and used for everyday tasks. As the advent of 5G makes mobile cellular communication ever faster and more reliable, this is only going to increase.
However, rapid growth of any enterprise technology always needs be countered with careful and robust security, to ensure that cybercriminals cannot take advantage of a popular new IT ecosystem. The IoT is no different. To ensure its trustworthiness and reliability, sophisticated security measures need to be ‘baked into’ its hardware and software from the outset – and this is where 2019 could be a truly exciting year.
A number of hardware manufacturers, including Cisco and Dell, are developing specific network edge infrastructure for the IoT, focusing on rugged reliability and solid security. Additionally, specialist security vendors are developing more and more security solutions designed to secure IoT endpoints.
All this means that whilst new sectors start moving into IoT innovation for the first time, industries with a more established IoT ecosystem look likely to diversify and grow at pace – and this means new business opportunities for vendors and partners.
This white paper explores five of the key areas we expect to grow and develop in the IoT in 2019, bolstered by this growing and maturing security landscape.
Smart homes have become normalised in 2018. Most consumers are now aware of the concept of a smart meter – many have already implemented one – whilst devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home were on many a Christmas list by the end of the year. The notion of a connected home alarm or security system is commonplace.
The next step, then, is the evolution of individual homes and buildings into integrated smart neighbourhoods and, ultimately, smart cities. These involve the integration and interaction of multiple different IoT ecosystems, managing everything from shared vehicles and traffic flow to sewage and waste management. Until now, those systems have remained disparate, but innovators such as Sidewalk Labs are working on developing more integrated approaches.
In 2019, we expect more partnerships and collaboration between different players in the emerging smart city landscape, and pilot projects demonstrating how intelligent approaches to core city infrastructure can lead to process efficiencies, cost savings and more liveable neighbourhoods. The opportunities for collaboration in this space will be huge.
The health and social care sectors have a massive amount to gain from the IoT. At the simplest end of the spectrum, the IoT underpins connected care technologies such as systems which alert caregivers if an individual falls in their home or deviates significantly from their ordinary routine. In turn, these enable older people and those with chronic conditions to remain in their homes and live independently for longer. More complicated applications of the IoT in the healthcare sector include connected devices which are actually embedded in patients to gather ongoing medical data, such as heart rate monitors. From there, connected devices which can also provide medical interventions, such as connected pacemakers and insulin pumps, are not far behind.
These applications are particularly pertinent as governments grapple with the twin challenges of growing, aging population, and cost pressures as the medical interventions available evolve. Meanwhile, the Paperless 2020 initiative, moving the NHS away from paper-based processes and towards a more joined-up and digitised mode of generating and sharing patient information is gathering pace. According to one prediction, 87% of healthcare organisations will adopt IoT technology by the end of next year.
Smart, connected factories, production lines and warehouses can have a dramatic impact on the efficiency and innovation of manufacturing businesses, doing everything from driving predictive maintenance and asset sweating on the factory floor, to enabling more intelligent stock management and faster picking in the warehouse. There are so many diverse applications of the IoT in the average manufacturing operation that there is little surprise that this is predicted to be a massive growth area.
One interesting way in which these manufacturing and industrial applications of the IoT look set to evolve in 2019 relates to where data processing actually takes place. Gartnerhas predicted that, over the next four years, three quarters of enterprise-generated data will be processed at the edge, rather than in the cloud – this is compared to around 10% today. This will place great demand on the IoT to be able to work on a much smaller footprint.
Additionally, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have a huge amount to offer in connected manufacturing settings, guiding workers through more complex tasks whilst enabling greater automation of simpler ones. The integration of AR and VR with the IoT in manufacturing organisations will be a key trend in 2019.
The concept of driverless cars has captured the public’s imagination like little else within the world of IoT. However, whilst this is arguably the most dramatic intervention that the IoT will ultimately make in the automotive industry, it is by no means the only one – and others are available now. IoT technology can underpin more intelligent location tracking and route planning, or be used for smart maintenance by tracking qualities such as tyre pressure and fuel consumption. It can drive efficiencies both for individual consumers and for organisations which manage entire fleets of vehicles, such as transport and logistics firms – the possibilities are extremely broad.
A major growth area for 2019 is likely to be the concept of remote diagnostics, whereby connected cars are able to proactively alert their drivers or even their manufacturers when a problem is taking place. This will, in turn, enable everything from advice on better driving practices to innovations in automotive design and engineering.
As physical retailers fight to compete with their online cousins, and consumers become increasingly interested in the concept of experiencesbeyond merely buying goods, the IoT has much to offer the retail industry. Connected sensors and devices within physical stores can be linked up to consumer apps, providing automatic up-selling and cross-selling suggestions when a customer enters a store.
For clothing and fashion retailers, the concept of the smart mirror – a virtual trying-on experience where customers can test of clothes or cosmetics by standing in front of a connected mirror – is becoming a reality too, thanks to the likes of Let’s Nurture.
Retailers today are under greater than ever pressure to cut costs and simultaneously stand out from the crowd, so the IoT has enormous potential here for developing more tailored and dynamic customer experiences, and driving up engagement. We expect to see more of this consumer-centric IoT development throughout 2019.
IoT ecosystems in 2019, then, look set to become more secure and reliable across a broad range of industries, and this in turn will form the foundation for greater innovation and creativity. These are just five of the sector-specific applications of the IoT which we expect to dramatically increase in scope and scale throughout the year, opening up a range of possibilities for third-party suppliers and partners to innovative too. All businesses with an interest in the IoT will have opportunities both to harness it in more trustworthy ways, and work in partnership with other industries to develop new products and services.
2019, then, will be a year of opportunity for the IoT. Are you ready to be part of it?