Given how fast technology is changing, we thought it would be interesting to ask IT executives to share their thoughts on the biggest surprises in 2017 and their predictions for 2018.
Here's what they told us about the biggest surprises about the Internet of Things. We'll cover predictions for 2018 in a couple of other articles.
The biggest surprise in 2017 is how many people are let down by the lack of IoT in the consumer space; even more surprising is how many people equate the underwhelming performance of consumer-driven IoT products to IoT as an overall general trend, which is actually quite robust. IoT has been fantastic for industrial and commercial applications across all business sectors except perhaps for the consumer space, so many see that as a big let-down.
The changing face of vulnerabilities — recent vulnerabilities have been discovered that are bigger and more impactful than ever before, i.e. CAN bus, which is found in all cars. Rather than being based on specific products or specific vendors, these vulnerabilities are something bigger, and more wide-ranging. Some products that have been around for years are now facing vulnerabilities, which is causing us to question trust in existing and new products.
In 2017, we were first introduced to the massive security issues created by lax security controls and configuration on consumer devices. The Mirai botnet attack on Dyn took down a substantial portion of the Internet for far too long.
In 2017, many of the big name players in the IT and telecom industries jumped on the IoT bandwagon in a big way, and have announced major initiatives supporting this growing trend. IBM has a major IoT initiative, Watson, that has established many vertical solutions and a deep partnership program. Dell has been dabbling in IoT and offers some point products in this space, but recently announced a major investment ($1B) over the next three years to develop solutions across all their product lines (servers, storage, VMware, etc…). And the list goes on: HPE, AT&T, Microsoft, Cisco — all of them now have focused initiatives around IoT. Why? Because customers need help figuring out how to solve problems related to collecting, storing and analyzing all the information that is now being generated in edge computing environments.
2017 was a market-leading year for IoT device adoption, with the number of devices growing as virtual assistants draw more attention to home technology and drive awareness for IoT and the smart home. The Z-Wave ecosystem is growing rapidly, and becoming more robust, with over 2,100 Z-Wave-certified devices from over 600 companies deployed throughout smart homes worldwide by service providers and telecoms in professionally installed IoT smart home and security systems. There has also been growth in the retail and e-tail channels, as interest in connecting home devices spreads past the early adopters.
This market growth is due in part to awareness and technological advancements that moved IoT forward through 2017. This year, the number of hacks and potential cyber threats grew in and out of the smart home space, causing consumer trepidation about security in IoT. In response, Sigma Designs released the new Security 2 framework, which is now mandated by the Z-Wave Alliance to be in every Z-Wave device, providing a standard for virtually unhackable smart homes. This standardized security will help the IoT space to continue to grow, safely, and help to restore consumer confidence in their smart homes.
The biggest surprise to me was how long it took for everyone to realize how important edge computing is to IIoT deployments. Even the biggest cloud-based enterprises have a balanced approach to what they deploy into the cloud versus the data center. So, why should we expect organizations with even less connectivity to be any different? That said, finding new ways to deliver some of the great capabilities of the cloud in an on-premise edge device is the sweet spot that IIoT customers need.
In my opinion, the biggest occurrence in 2017 was that IoT reached peak hype, giving way to new hype-cycles for machine learning (actually an offshoot of IoT) and for Artificial Intelligence (a familiar topic area, and one that requires IoT data as fuel for its intelligence). We saw a combination of several companies making very large investments in IoT, while others are scaling back or reorganizing their IoT teams. This combination of investment push and pull means that we’re at an inflection point. For IoT, this means we’re now at a point where projects have to deliver results. IoT vendors invested ahead of demand, with all sorts of claims of IoT one-stop shopping. With more capacity in the industry than there is demand, I expect we will see players drop off or shift focus.
While enterprise IoT adoption continued to expand in 2017, the spread of destructive botnets such as Reaper and Mirai made companies come to the realization that deploying IoT devices on existing networks creates cross-contamination that expands the attack surface and opens them up to new vulnerabilities traditional security tools are not equipped to handle. Cradlepoint's recent 'State of IoT' survey report highlights this issue, with cybersecurity coming in as the top concern for respondents at 40 percent.