Driven by the need for intelligent connected devices in industrial and commercial applications, the number of connected Internet of Things devices will grow to more than 31 billion globally in 2018, according to a report by business information provider IHS Markit.
“The IoT is not a recent phenomenon, but it is now working hand in hand with other transformative technologies like artificial intelligence and the cloud,” said Jenalea Howell, research director for IoT connectivity and smart cities at IHS Markit.
“This is fueling the convergence of verticals such as industrial IoT, smart cities and buildings, and the connected home, and it is increasing competitiveness,” Howell said.
The firm has also identified four key drivers and trends that will impact the IoT this year:
Innovation and competitiveness
The IoT opportunity has attracted numerous duplicative and overlapping wireless solutions such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 5G, NB-IoT, LoRa and Sigfox. Standards consolidation lies ahead, but confusion and fragmentation will dominate in the near term, according to the report.
Enterprises are leveraging the location of data as a competitive advantage — and as a result, a hybrid approach to cloud and data centre management is emerging. More and more companies will employ both on-premises data centres and off-premises cloud services to manage their IT infrastructure.
5G builds upon earlier investments in M2M (machine-to-machine) and traditional IoT applications, enabling significant increases in economies of scale that drive adoption and utilisation across all sectors of industry. Improved low-power requirements, the ability to operate on licensed and unlicensed spectrum, and better coverage will drive significantly lower costs across the IoT.
Cellular IoT gateways, which facilitate WAN connectivity, will be integral to edge computing deployments. Year 2018 will bring increased focus on compute capabilities and enhanced security for cellular IoT gateways, IHS Markit said.
Standardisation and security
Cybersecurity is a leading concern for IoT adopters. IoT deployments face critical cybersecurity risks because there are potentially many more IoT devices to secure compared to traditional IT infrastructure devices, presenting increased risk to traditional communications and computing systems, as well as physical health and safety.
Despite the promise it holds, blockchain — a technology for securely storing and transferring data — is not a panacea. Initially, IoT applications for blockchain technology will focus on asset tracking and management, according to the report.
IoT platforms are becoming more integrated. Currently, there are more than 400 IoT platform providers. Many vendors are using integration to compete more effectively, providing highly integrated functionality for IoT application developers and adopters.
Significant innovation will occur when IoT app developers can leverage data from myriad deployed sensors, machines and data stores. A key inflection point for the IoT will be the gradual shift from the current ‘Intranets of Things’ deployment model to one where data can be exposed, discovered, entitled and shared with third-party IoT application developers, the report said.