The end of a calendar year, and the beginning of a new one is often a time for reflection. Most of us will take the time to think about what we have achieved, enjoyed, maybe even regretted in 2017. We could then consider what we will do more of, less off and differently in 2018, and maybe make a resolution or two. So, what has 2018 got in store for the Internet of Things?
It’s clear that the internet of things is transforming the business world in every industry — from giving companies the ability to track systems remotely, to providing doctors with patient data in real time, to automating building maintenance systems just to name a few. As the technology has evolved over time, the adoption of IoT solutions among businesses has skyrocketed. In fact, according to research from Gartner, 8.4 billion connected things will be in use by the end of the year. It’s a sign that companies around the world are recognising the potential of the IoT to provide insights, better engage with customers and employees, and ultimately drive business growth.
We’ve seen almost every industry invest in IoT, and leading industries are quickly moving to implement solutions that drive the bottom line. Consumer products, like wearables and connected electronics, are certainly a large part of the market. But IDC Research estimates more than 80 percent of IoT spend through to 2020 will be on B2B applications. That’s why IoT will be one of the primary drivers of the digital transformation in 2018 and beyond.
Companies that integrate IoT products and services will see a number of benefits from the technology. But, the benefits go way beyond just enabling better data collection and business insights. IoT will be seen as a driver of improvements across businesses — organisations are already using IoT to reduce risk, cut costs, create new revenue streams, improve employee productivity, enhance customer experience and much more.
With all this in mind, I would like to share what I believe will be the top IoT trends in 2018.
Connected Industry will continue to be one of the most influential IoT projects in 2018. Companies in a wide variety of industries can use the massive amounts of data provided by IoT devices to help them improve manufacturing processes, fine-tune business strategies, monitor factory/construction equipment — the list goes on!
Fleet Management is one of the most popular connected industry fields right now, and will continue to be so in 2018. Companies are able to track mileage, optimise routes, monitor driver behaviour, the number of stops taken, and find the current location of their vehicles. They can also monitor fuel levels, engine diagnostics, seat belt usage and even detect dangers on the road. The general thought across the industry is that, eventually, this will ultimately all lead to self-driving cars.
Smart City IoT projects will focus on improving the lives of people that live in the world’s biggest cities. This technology will help to streamline transportation, by collecting massive amounts of data regarding traffic, gathering of people, parking and public transport. Thanks to Smart City projects, delayed trains and sitting in hours of traffic may be a thing of the past. These technologies use cameras to monitor the traffic flow. This means that traffic lights will operate according to the levels of congestion. Intelligent roadways that sense conditions and traffic will adjust speed limits, synchronise street lights, and issue driver warnings, leading to faster and safer trips for drivers and pedestrians sharing the roadways. As these technologies are deployed, they become a bridge to the connected vehicles of tomorrow.
With much of global conversation focused on energy consumption, Smart Energy IoT projects will continue to be deployed to help both commercial buildings and households to better monitor their energy use. Smart streetlights powered by cost-effective and energy-efficient LED lights will help cities lower their environmental impact. Smart Meters will help households and commercial buildings to monitor their overall energy consumption. This, in turn, will lower the overall pollution levels of a city, while also helping to detect power outages sooner than ever before.
Smart Supply Chains help to ensure that the massive amounts of data gathered by smart technology help to improve and streamline day-to-day operations. Smart Supply Chains can help to fill in the gaps in production when workers are unavailable. This means that companies can produce more in less time. This technology will also help companies to make better use of their storage space, avoid over-production, and help to monitor inventory.
The latest Smart Retail IoT projects allow retailers to make best-price offers on the spot, so they don’t lose business to their competitors. Additionally, these technologies can also help to identify high-value customers. When they walk into a store or add another item to their digital cart, you’ll be notified. That way, you can ensure that you’re providing your most loyal customers with the best service. Additionally, smart technology will become a norm, ensuring that you never run out of your most popular products. Through the use of predictive analytics, you can identify when you are close to selling out of your most popular or most profitable items.
As we rely on connected devices to make our lives better and easier in 2018, IoT Security will become more important than ever. All participants in the IoT ecosystem are responsible for the security of the devices, data, and solutions. This means that device manufacturers, application developers, consumers, operators, integrators, and enterprise businesses should all follow best practices. IoT security requires a multi-layered approach.
In 2018, Blockchain will play a major role by enhancing security, making transactions more seamless, and creating efficiencies in the supply chain. Blockchain can help build trust between the people and parties that transact together. While Person A may not know Person B and may not trust them implicitly, the permanent record of transactions and data from devices stored on the Blockchain provide proof and command the necessary trust for businesses and people to cooperate. IoT and Blockchain enable participants to reduce monetary and time costs by ultimately removing the “middle man” from processes. Transactions and device data are now exhibited on a peer-to-peer basis, removing most legal or contractual costs.
I expect all of these things to play a major role in IoT in the coming year. IoT is rapidly becoming part of the fabric of IT infrastructure, moving from a “nice to have” technology to a critical asset. I fully expect other trends will emerge that aren’t even on the horizon yet—because IoT is evolving so rapidly, there’s always something new!
As we look ahead to 2018, I hope you’re as excited about the IoT world as I am. If you have thoughts on these or other trends that you believe will drive IoT transformations, let me know. I would enjoy hearing from you.