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 the second of two articles of what they told us about their predictions for IoT in 2018. Need to catch up on Part 1? Here you go.
With greater awareness and buy-in around edge computing, we’ll see not only fewer barriers to adoption but also significant headway in terms of its success in 2018. That said, we should still expect to face a number of obstacles. We are still in the early stages of edge computing, and therefore must overcome a lack of best practices for smooth implementation and success. In 2018, we’ll experience a trial and error phase of edge computing strategies until best practices are established.
Advances in standards — BLE and wire protocols, etc. — will be a boon to developers, but are paving the way to hardware commoditization. This is good news for companies looking for inexpensive hardware like edge sensors with which to create an IoT solution. We see SaaS players rapidly coming to market with pre-built applications for several “killer apps” in the IoT space, like asset tracking, facility monitoring, and equipment fault prediction. Cloud support for IoT applications is positive and getting better rapidly. Highly scalable platforms that allow ingestion of huge volumes of data, along with highly parallelized data processing and inexpensive, high-volume data stores, are big enablers to IoT application development. The big technical problems to solve for any company embarking on an IoT project tend to be data ingestion (edge-to-cloud concerns), and advanced analytics on the collected data. Of course, the biggest concern of all is having a clear vision of the business goals to be achieved and value of the solution before getting started in the first place.
On who will win the IoT/smart home market: Amazon will overtake Google as the smart home giant. These two companies have been duking it out in the smart home market for years: In 2014, Google entered the market with Nest (founded 2010). Amazon Echo launched in 2015, and Google Home in 2016. In 2018, we will see Amazon win more market share than Google. Why? Amazon doesn’t care as much about making money on the device. The purpose of Alexa devices (Echo, $100, or Dash Button $5) is to make it easy to order more product from Amazon, letting them undercut Google Home ($129) on prices.
Expect quantifiable results. In 2018, you’ll be hearing from organizations that have implemented IoT (those early adopters) about actual projects and demonstrable ROI. They will be talking about successful business outcomes and process improvements. Up until now, most gains expressed have been theoretical, based on desired outcomes rather than measurable success.
It takes an ecosystem. Users are learning that IoT is not a technology; it is a complex multi-part solution that cannot be delivered by a single vendor. Vendors with IoT offerings that have been trying to go solo and have not engaged with complementary partners are having problems. I expect users with projects relying on a single vendor will continue to experience the negative effects of vendor lock-in.
We have the data. Now we need the knowledge. Now that organizations have started IoT projects, many are finding that they are not sure how to derive value from the data they are collecting. They have built the infrastructure and are collecting data, but do not have the right technology, the skills (data scientists, for example), or knowledge to complete the entire information lifecycle.
Follow the business needs. On the horizon, we will see interest in IoT increase, especially in industries that need to drive cost out of their business. For example, lower energy prices are driving the increased demand for IoT solutions from the oil and gas industry. Also, traditionally low-margin businesses such as retail will continue to look for ways to increase efficiency and reinvent the customer experience to increase demand. Businesses with large capital assets that require maintenance (such as manufacturing) are also seeking process improvements through IoT predictive maintenance and machine learning solutions.
Human knowledge transfer to machine learning. We will see more and more use cases where human knowledge is being used to create predictive models. For example, a machinist who has been responsible for equipment over many years can identify the unique sound generated by each part of the machinery. Those audio identifiers can be added to predictive models and used to trigger alerts that a part is about to fail.
New economic models. Delivery of IoT services will take on a new dimension as expectations change for tracking, billing, paying, and accounting for transactions as the number of connected devices grows.
Security and privacy. With each new IoT device added, the vectors of attack increase. Stop looking for the magic security bullet - no one vendor provides a single solution — and adopt a defense in depth, end-to-end, layered security strategy for dealing with threats. Privacy issues such as the use of facial recognition technology by retailers to identify and target offers will continue to increase.
in 2018, companies will take the cybersecurity threat head-on by deploying an array of software-defined perimeter technologies that will control access and isolate IoT devices from each other and existing networks to shield them from being Internet addressable. With 69 percent of 'State of IoT' survey respondents saying they have adopted, or plan to adopt, IoT solutions within the next year, the movement will clearly continue to gain steam in 2018. By addressing security issues that could undermine IoT progress, companies will be on track to take full advantage of this revolutionary technology over the coming years.
IIoT finds footing — Industrial Internet of Things, or IIoT, has been one of the most widely discussed topics but has so far largely failed to deliver on its promises. We have severely underestimated the complexity of collecting data at the edge of the network and moving this data securely to nodes in the cloud where it can be analyzed and acted upon. This problem has now been mostly solved. At this point, all major cloud service providers offer mature IoT platforms that can move data at scale and process some of this data locally at the edge of the network. In the near future, a growing number of ERP vendors will begin building on this foundation to deliver innovative IIoT applications powered by event-driven cloud functions, predictive analytics, and deep learning.
Most computers will be invisible. There are many more computers in a typical home than most people probably notice. They are embedded in a host of everyday consumer objects: cars, washing machines, light bulbs, toasters, Wi-Fi routers, TVs, smoke alarms, thermostats and the many other devices that already form part of the “internet of things” (IoT). These devices typically run Linux or some other dedicated operating system, and they already outnumber the things that we think of as computers.
IoT devices are starting to appear in our workplaces too, and that trend is set to accelerate. This is something that should make all of us pause for thought because it’s going to have an impact on how we manage security.
If you belong to an organization that thinks of itself as security conscious, you have no doubt already devoted resources to managing network security, patches, version control and everything else needed to ensure your computers are safe and secure. You are much less likely to have given a lot of thought to your IoT devices. Ensuring that these are safe is certainly going to make security management quite a lot harder; but if you ignore them, you might suddenly find your data center under attack from the lightbulbs and toasters in the canteen!
1. Momentum for edge analytics and edge intelligence in the IIoT will accelerate in 2018.
Almost every notable hardware vendor has a ruggedized line of products promoting edge processing. This indicates that the market is prime for Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. With technology giants announcing software stacks for the edge, there is little doubt that this momentum will only accelerate during 2018. Furthermore, traditional industries, like manufacturing, that have been struggling to showcase differentiated products, will now embrace edge analytics to drive new revenue streams and/or significant yield improvements for their customers.
Additionally, any industry with assets being digitized and making the leap toward connecting or instrumenting brownfield environments is well positioned to leverage the value of edge intelligence. Usually, the goal of these initiatives is to have a deep business impact. This can be delivered by tapping into previously unknown or unrealized efficiencies and optimizations. Often these surprising insights are uncovered only through analytics and machine learning. Industries with often limited access to bandwidth, such as oil and gas, mining, fleet and other verticals, truly benefit from edge intelligence. What’s more, those that apply edge intelligence are able to benefit from real-time decisions, as well as insights from voluminous streaming sensor data.
Due to the current pain points in the IIoT space and the edge technology availability to address them, we expect to see increased interest in edge analytics/ML from oil and gas, energy, utilities, transportation and other sectors interested in revamping their IIoT value.
2. Business cases and ROI are critical for IIoT pilots and adoption in 2018.
The year 2017 was about exploring IIoT and led to the explosion of proof of concepts and pilot implementations. While this trend will continue into 2018, we expect increased awareness about the business value edge technologies bring to the table. Companies that have been burned by the “Big Data Hype” – where data was collected but little was leveraged – will assess IIoT engagements and deployments for definitive ROI. As edge technologies pick up speed in proving business value, the adoption rate will exponentially rise to meet the demands of ever-increasing IoT applications.
3. IIoT standards will be driven by customer successes and company partnerships.
IIoT is just now getting attention from the major technology players. If anything, 2018 will see more new products coming to market, and there will be more to choose from in terms of standards. The next year or two will see stronger alliances, unlikely partnerships and increased merger and acquisition activity as the large technology companies seek innovation inside and outside their organizations. As for standards, they will be driven by the success of customers and patterns of scalable IIoT solutions.
4. IT and OT teams will collaborate for successful IIoT deployments.
IIoT deployments will start forcing closer engagement between IT and operations technology (OT) teams. Line of business leaders will get more serious around investing in digitization, and IT will become the cornerstone required for the success of these initiatives. What was considered a wide gap between the two sectors – IT and OT – will bridge thanks to the recognized collaboration needed to successfully deploy IIoT solutions and initiatives.
And will OT design affect IIoT apps? Yes, definitely. Recent research and field studies suggest that analytics tools are being made more accessible to end users, i.e. domain experts and plant operators. This means that advanced technology is now being made available to field workers, so operational decisions can be driven in real-time at the industrial location.
5. Edge computing will reduce security vulnerabilities for IIoT assets.
While industries do recognize the impact of an IIoT security breach there is surprisingly little implementation of specific solutions. This stems from two emerging trends:
a) Traditional IT security vendors are still repositioning their existing products to address IIoT security concerns.
b) A number of new entrants are developing targeted security solutions that are specific to a layer in the stack, or a particular vertical.
This creates the expectation that, if and when an event occurs, these two classes of security solutions are sufficient enough. Often IoT deployments are considered greenfield and emerging, so these security breaches still seem very futuristic, even though they are happening now. Consequently, there is little acceleration to deploy security solutions, and most leaders seem to employ a wait-and-watch approach. The good news is major security threats, like WannaCry, Petya/Goldeneye and BadRabbit, do resurface IIoT security concerns during the regular news cycle. However, until security solutions are more targeted, and evoke trust, they may not help move the needle.
While we might not feel the immediate effects of the IoT, its potential impact is huge. Advances in IoT-connected biotechnology will take healthcare to the next level, with around-the-clock monitoring, targeted treatment, and even automated doses of medication. In smart cities, when everything is connected to the IoT grid, autonomous vehicles will eliminate car crashes caused by human error to save one million lives annually. In the Intelligent Enterprise, the IoT will connect the global supply chain from end-to-end, enabling pervasive visibility, proactive replenishment, and predictive maintenance. With the IoT, data-driven decision making will become standard in all industries and in our daily lives.
In 2018, we’ll see IoT for industry automation. Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of devices that are able to connect and exchange data, and as of today, IoT is predominantly for home automation. I envision this changing to include hotel rooms, hospital rooms, classrooms and conference rooms. You simply use your voice to tell any of your Apple devices how to behave. Want to display your watch, iPad, iPhone or Mac on the Apple TV that’s in the room? Voice command and done. Have a large file you need to share with your doctor, classmate or colleague? AirDrop and done. No other ecosystem is as connected as Apple, and their ability to communicate with the devices you own, along with other Apple devices you want them to interact with, is unmatched.