Last updated: 16 January 2018
2017 was another big year for the IoT. Consumers continued buying connected devices in their droves, culminating in voice assistants becoming a must-have Christmas gift around the world. The first Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) services and products were officially launched, and it’s even claimed that there are now more connected IoT devices than there are smartphones and PCs.
But what does 2018 have in store for the IoT? Here are five key trends we predict will define the year ahead.
1.More connected devices, more connectivity options
2017 saw the number of devices, and the ways in which they connect, expand. That trend will continue in 2018. Notably, new Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) as NB-IoT, Sigfox or LoRaWAN, will be further developed. These will enable longer battery life in devices that need to be in the field for several years, and reliable connectivity across large distances.
We expect these widespread deployments to start driving a real social impact – such as environmental monitoring in the fight against climate change. Greater convenience and simplicity in our everyday lives will grow as home automation services continue to push into new fields, and a new era of smart manufacturing will emerge. This sector is set for a milestone year after a wave of pilot projects and experimentation in 2017, with a recent IDC report estimating that it will spend $189 billion in 2018 alone.
We’ll see more firms getting started on their own ‘IoT journey’ and requiring guidance on connectivity options, storage, remote monitoring and so on.
2. More edge computing with real-time analytics
With more IoT deployments, especially in the industrial field where devices may be spread over a large geographic distance, we’ll see an increase in the use of real-time data at the edge (i.e. on the connected device). As well as providing an efficient way to reduce the cost of data transfer and storage, it will allow immediate analysis of data and the ability to take faster, better informed decisions.
A recent IDC report predicted that 40% of IoT data will be stored and analyzed at the edge of the network by 2019.
3. An increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning
The efforts made so far in machine learning will continue to develop, helping IoT devices to move from rule-based to deeper predictive maintenance, increasing efficiencies. We can expect better detection of potential attacks before they’re able to cause huge damage.
IoT providers will also be able to offer new matching services based on deeper observations of customer profiles, as machines learn from how end-users interact with a service or product. AI will be particularly important in large scale deployments of hundreds or thousands of IoT devices, where networking and data collection would otherwise become quite difficult.
While there’s been lots of discussion around AI taking over from humans in the workplace, we believe that these fears are not totally founded. The technology will provide new AI-related jobs, or simply allow people to focus on entirely new, more creative tasks.
4. More regulations and standards for security
The need for robust security in the IoT will grow. More attacks will happen, leading to greater awareness of IoT security and the potential damage that could be caused by an attack. A survey we ran last year found that the majority of organizations and consumers believe there is a need for IoT security regulations, and want government involvement in setting those standards.
Partnerships with external IoT experts will become more common as companies try to boost security. That means working with ‘white hat’ hackers, IoT security experts or bug bounty programs to test existing infrastructures, discover vulnerabilities and make improvements.
5. Growth of comprehensive IoT platforms
Manufacturers in particular will be looking for IoT platforms which can provide a complete technology stack in one place. The platforms that come out on top will be the ones who can offer everything a manufacturer or service provider needs – connectivity, support for all connectivity protocols, security, scalability, remote fleet monitoring and large, secure data storage opportunities with links to major cloud connectors (AWS, IBM, Microsoft etc).
Comprehensive IoT platforms like these will enable IoT service providers to develop their offering more quickly and easily, while ensuring security.
There will doubtlessly be more major developments and unexpected surprises waiting for us over the next 12 months – but whatever happens, it’s sure to be an exciting year.
What are your IoT predictions for 2018? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.