2017 was an exciting year for the Internet of Things movement. The industry saw tremendous growth and is projected to experience an even bigger surge this year. According to IDC, global IoT revenue is on track to reach $772.5 billion in 2018, an estimated 14.6 percent increase from the $674 billion tallied for 2017. IDC also predicts that the industry will top a whopping $1 trillion by 2020.
From self-learning IT environments to enhanced customer experiences, IoT has the potential to radically transform the enterprise world. Here are five IoT trends grabbing headlines in 2018.
Big Data Convergence
IoT is a disruptive technology that is not only changing the way we live and do business, but generating massive amounts of data in the process. Infrastructure upgrades are required to accommodate the rapid influx of data companies are increasingly dealing with. This is where big data comes into play. Big data platforms are designed to support large-scale storage demands and perform the analysis that is necessary to extract the full benefits of IoT.
The Internet of Things and big data naturally share an intimate connection. However, IoT produces data on an entirely different scale. A whole new wave of smart devices has been added to the existing crop of servers, smartphones, and tablets that already produce their fair share of data. While the cloud is more than capable of handling the storage and analytics requirements, it struggles at efficiently processing large sets of data on certain smart devices. For this reason, IoT requires a different approach to big data, which ties into our next point.
Data Processing with Edge Computing
The success of IoT hinges on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of data processing. Consistently fast processing is imperative in a smart device economy fueled by intelligent traffic lights and self-driving vehicles. These critical IoT applications require data to be as close to the device as possible. Edge computing has been identified as the answer to the problem. By analyzing data at or near the source, edge computing outperforms the cloud in terms of both cost and speed for the simple fact that lower latency means faster processing.
IoT industry frontrunners such as Cisco, Dell, and SAP are leading the charge with each company recently incorporating edge computing into their existing infrastructures. While expert projections suggest that the rise of edge computing is imminent, claims of this trend supplanting the cloud may be a tad ambitious. The two are more likely to co-exist as cloud computing still offers value to IoT applications with low latency demands.
Greater Consumer Adoption
Much of the IoT discussion focuses on the industrial space. Applications in the healthcare, manufacturing, and logistics industries have provided a small sample of what is possible on a grand scale. However, consumer adoption is just as important to IoT growth. Consumer applications range from simple and straightforward examples such as smartwatches to sophisticated home appliances and other high-end implementations. There is still a long way to go, but the consumer-friendly IoT innovations showcased at CES 2018 illustrate how this segment is steadily moving forward.
Blockchain for IoT Security
The recent explosion of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has thrust blockchain into the spotlight. Based on peer-to-peer network topology, blockchain uses cryptography to build a continuous link of data records — or blocks. No changes can be made to individual blocks without modifying each subsequent block and obtaining validation at the network level, thus making it resistant to many attacks commonly employed by hackers. Widely considered secure design, blockchain can potentially enhance IoT security in the following ways:
- Data protection: A stringent approach to verification and validation enables blockchain to prevent data tampering in IoT applications.
- Data transfer: Blockchain can identify, authenticate, and securely transfer data to and from IoT devices.
- Data exchange: Organizations can further enhance IoT security by eliminating third-party processors and exchanging data entirely through a blockchain instead.
- Data integrity: By providing a detailed history of connected devices, blockchain makes it possible to track IoT activity and prevent the duplication of malicious data.
Security is just one aspect. Blockchain also reduces the cost of networking, which could fuel a greater number of IoT applications by simply lowering the cost of investment and operational expenses.
IoT Security Awareness and Training
When it comes to any new technology, security is often the biggest barrier between adoption and success. IoT is no exception. The industry is in a state of infancy, meaning we are literally learning on the fly as far as designing and implementing effective security measures is concerned. As a result, we have an increasing number of connected devices that are both vulnerable and dangerous. The potential for cybercriminals to launch coordinated attacks across privately owned smart devices is very scary and very real.
Industry forecasting confirms that IoT security is a chief priority in 2018. Gartner predicts that IoT spending will reach $1.5 billion in 2018, up 28 percent from the $1.2 billion spent in 2017. The survey revealed that the majority of spending is concentrated in three main areas: professional services, gateway security, and endpoint security. Conversely, Gartner believes that lack of standards and failure to commit to best practices will stall as much as 80 percent of potential spending. This prediction is on par with the general consensus on the need for IoT standardization.
The Internet of Things has transcendent potential that no business can afford to ignore. Keeping a close watch on these trends should be a priority for any business owner, developer, or IT specialist with vested interests in IoT.