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Getting to grips with the IoT in 2016

With Gartner forecasting 6.4 billion connected ‘things’ in use worldwide by 2016, rising to 21 billion by the year 2020, you’d be right to anticipate an imminent acceleration in projects and devices that harness the Internet of Things (IoT). However, IoT isn’t just a consumer phenomenon, it has been brewing in recent years and 2015 marked the point where IoT gained significant momentum. In 2016 IoT will move beyond the hype and in the year ahead we expect to see business adoption increasing and use cases starting to broaden out.

At TeamViewer we’ve been enabling human to machine connectivity for many years, working with small businesses as well as the largest retailers and manufacturers on the remote management and control of devices. This prelude to IoT is now going through a transition and in 2015 we saw IoT gathering pace with a slew of customers using TeamViewer to connect and control devices in projects for a wide range of applications, ranging from cash registers, to fish feeding devices, power turbines and water filtration systems.

Another area where IoT is being increasingly deployed is for commercial real estate, where sensors can feed back valuable facilities management data to help manage and even reduce costs. And the UK’s first connected city, Bristol is already demonstrating the potential of IoT for the public sector. Perhaps the most exciting example of this is Bristol’s Data Dome. Sharing its home with the 3D Planetarium, the Data Dome is a unique space for residents to relax and visualise community data.

Gartner estimates total spending of $235 billion on IoT support and services in 2016, largely to meet the business need to design, install and operate IoT systems. To put this into perspective, Gartner’s predictions suggest that 5.5 million new things will get connected every day worldwide in 2016. This is set to place considerable new demands on enterprise networks, generating both bandwidth and security challenges as well as a corresponding need for remote support to keep these devices up and running.

Despite IoT still being something of a vague concept, enterprises have sat up to its appeal and those looking to deploy IoT in some way over the coming year will need an efficient management and deployment strategy. So how can companies make sure they are ready for the IoT revolution?

Overcoming the bandwidth and security issues

The challenge businesses have when faced with handling potentially millions of devices is that it can drain an enormous amount of network resource away from employees. For this reason and to mitigate substantial loss of resource, IoT deployments will add momentum to the trend of organisations moving substantial parts of their IT infrastructure to the cloud.

2016 will mark the point in which multi-tenanted IoT platforms from vendors begin to dominate, as companies look for hosted services to handle the connectivity, device management, and data collection activities of their IoT projects as cost-effectively as possible with minimal demands upon capital outlay and bandwidth resources.

While IoT application enablement platforms will support the implementation of applications, business specific apps might have to access internal services as well as data residing within the company network. In order to achieve this securely, a robust access and rights management process is key to ensure security of the network.

Troubleshooting options for technical support

The sheer proliferation of devices that will underpin the IoT revolution is going to put huge demands on technical support teams, creating the need for innovative new approaches to one of IoT’s biggest challenges; each of the millions of devices that are set to be deployed on a daily basis in 2016 will need maintenance, repair and firmware or software updates, often without the luxury of someone nearby to access it.

Unattended access to Android devices is heralding many more opportunities for IoT projects. Android is not only the operating system of choice for smartphones and tablets but also many of the less than obvious devices that will make up the IoT.

For example, devices such as adaptive lighting, heating controls and ventilation systems in homes and offices all require access and management remotely and virtually. Add to that the huge number of connected devices running Android in commercial environments such as point of sale, advertising displays and ATMs and you begin to see the scale of the technical support issue.

Closing the data gap

Finally, one of the key challenges of IoT will be how to make sense of the vast amount of telemetry and sensor data being collected. Experience in data science and data analytics is going to be essential to generate insights that drive more effective business strategies. Complex IoT deployments are pointless if they fail to deliver competitive value. Closing the data gap will be crucial to successful IoT deployments throughout the coming year.

The impact of IoT on ‘the way we do things’ is not just going to affect many areas of our daily life as consumers and employees; it will also lead to fundamental changes in the IT infrastructure that our organisations depend upon. In 2016, we will begin to experience the scale of these changes, while the most innovative organisations will start to get to grips with their complexities.

David Gingell, Chief Marketing Officer, TeamViewer

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