What’s in the cards for IoT in 2018?

Over the last few years the Internet of Things (IoT) has entered and transformed many different industries.   

As IoT develops, inevitably new opportunities and challenges will arise that change the conversation around IoT. Here are the top IoT topics that I think industries should be talking about in 2018. 

1. The battle over IoT data ownership – Gartner estimated a 31 percent global increase in connected devices in the last year and this means that the amount of data being generated by IoT is increasing exponentially. In 2017, IoT and Big Data intersected in a big way to collect, analyse and make sense of IoT data, yet only 1 percent of IoT data is actually being used. This leaves a growing amount of data that has the potential to generate value for businesses, but the question is ‘who owns this data’?   

In 2018 the industry will move forward into a new era – one that requires figuring out who gets access to that data, how it can be used, and who owns it. Critical to managing this will be determining which data is actually valuable and actionable to help drive real results. 

2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will help secure IoT – IoT security incidents continue to increase. In the last couple of years, we have seen some serious security breaches, ranging from a data leak from connected stuffed toys to major concerns over cardiac devices in America, which were feared to be vulnerable to hackers.    

Rather than reacting to incidents after they happen, 2018 will be the year the industry takes a more proactive approach – thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Combining IoT data with AI and machine learning technologies will enable the industry to predict – and thus aim to prevent – attacks before they happen. 

3. IoT interoperability finally becomes a reality – According to Gartner, 2017 saw a 31 percent rise in IoT devices across the globe, with a particular spike in smart TV and digital set-top box purchases. With more devices comes the challenge of supporting more connections and the need for greater interoperability – particularly as users expect a consistent and integrated service across all the products they use.    

Devices made by different manufacturers are integrating to work together, however, and device interoperability will become mainstream in 2018. This is finally happening because of the adoption of standards like the Open Connectivity Foundation for device-to-device interactions in smart home and enterprise applications, OPC UA in the industrial space, and OMA LwM2M for device management. These are being adopted in both applications and firmware so that these devices can speak a common language (or send and receive common data to each other). This drives an even greater need for IoT platforms that can apply policies and automate what actions are taken based on the data being shared. 

4. Low power wide area networks (LPWANs) will make IoT more accessible, but they need a business model – In 2018, the availability of LPWANs will make the connectivity of devices far more affordable and will help increase adoption, but this will create urgency around the need for a business model to make LPWANs profitable.   

Because low power devices typically use very little data, it’s not strategic to charge based on the amount of data used per device. Instead, LPWANs will need to charge based on the business outcomes delivered, not the data used in delivering those results. 

5. Transportation as a Service (TaaS) goes mainstream – TaaS represents the shift toward personally owned vehicles like connected cars being used by others as a service. Ride sharing is a common example of TaaS being offered by companies such as Uber.  By the end of 2018, most major automotive companies will commit to a percentage of their fleets being used as part of a ride-sharing service.   

Some will invest in existing ride-sharing services, while others will introduce their own branded offerings. Likewise, bike sharing services will explode globally in 2018 as multi-modal transportation (for example, taking a train to the city, riding a bike-share to your meeting destinations, then taking a ride-sharing service to the airport) becomes more convenient and cost effective. 

The growth in IoT and expectations for its future reminds us of one clear thing, the importance of data being connected seamlessly, reliably, and quickly.  We now live in a world where not only are we connected to each other but the machines we engage with are connected, and they are engaging with each other.    

For 2018 we will see this become the basis of new industries – such as LPWAN and TaaS – as well as critical to the transformation in business processes and services offered, thanks to interoperability, artificial intelligence and machine learning.  The ability to automate the IoT connectivity, the effectiveness of data management platforms, and ensuring there is a reliable network will be fundamental to delivering value-add IoT services. All this is what will enhance customer experience and consequently shape industries in 2018. 

Theresa Bui, Director of IoT Strategy, Cisco 

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