If there’s one thing we have learned about IoT in the past, it’s that the predictions of its size are not to be trusted. From the early predictions of a trillion devices by 2015, to the more recent predictions of 50 billion devices by 2020, those in the know seem to have used IoT growth predictions as an exercise of building hype, only to have it reduced to nothing by hard-hitting reality.
But those wild predictions wouldn’t have been served out if the Internet of Things didn’t come with exciting promises. And with all the hype about how widespread IoT will become, we’ve seen those promises starting to deliver — IoT has been slowly changing industries ranging from manufacturing to agriculture.
Not that IoT has been problem-free. Security issues are commonly cited as one of the main reasons why IoT adoption has failed to reach the projected heights. This year saw a couple of interesting developments in that field, however, so it might seem that 2018 could be a year worthy of optimistic, albeit cautious, predictions for IoT.
A Shift Towards Value
IoT is not a concept that was developed yesterday, or overnight. There have been talks of interconnected devices as far as 1982, even though its practical developments and the buzz that have followed them have been more recent. Still, IoT is now a hard fact where most of the big questions, like how, when, and where, are already known. That leaves us with “why.”
We know IoT works. We also know it has its set of issues too, but there’s no need to prove that devices equipped with sensors can be interconnected and provide us with data we can further analyze or react to. There’s no need for proofs of concept anymore. What is needed, and what we might see more of in 2018, are developments of different ways value can be extracted from IoT.
The push towards value is at least partially dependent on increased adoption rates, as well as organizations’ willingness to look at a broader context when considering implementation. So far, industries have been on the forefront of IoT implementation, and 2018 could be the year when businesses, particularly small and medium ones, start using IoT for its cost-saving potentials, for example.
Changing Circumstances Will Continue to Increase Demand
A look at healthcare in the United States shows an industry that it’s preparing for a major workload increase. Healthcare occupations dominate the list of fastest growing occupations. The population is aging, and even the youngest Baby Boomers, the generation that makes up roughly a quarter of US population, are over 50 years old and nearing the age where increased health issues are expected.
It sure seems like healthcare could use help wherever it might get it. We know by know that IoT has implementations in the healthcare industry, from remote patient management to online consultations. 2018 could see an increase in implementation of IoT solutions in healthcare.
In fact, many other industries that have already started using IoT solutions could increase their implementation effort. There isn’t a lack of demand, and even market players who have been traditionally focused on different technologies are warming up to incorporating IoT solutions in their offer. And one of the barriers to increased implementation that’s going to be tackled in 2018 is security.
New Security Technologies
We’ve already seen a couple of exciting IoT security developments this year. In February, Hewlett-Packard introduced HPE SecureData, a security solution for Hadoop and IoT that was tagged as “the first data-centric IoT security solution.” Later in the year, Intel introduced Intel Secure Device Onboard, its own IoT security solution.
So we know that players on the market have been busy this year trying to solve what’s arguably the number one problem of IoT, but what about the next year? A hint comes from Intel’s SDO, which comes prepared for integration of services that are not already present, including — blockchain.
There’s already been plenty of talks about all the good blockchain can provide to IoT, like decentralization and a low maintenance cost. If SDO’s blockchain-ready status is anything to go on (and it’s not the only thing, because Intel has been investing in blockchain technology), we can see that the key players are already preparing for the use of blockchain. They might be looking at a date that’s beyond it, but 2018 might still be the year we see a more solid foray into blockchain use for IoT security.
Through all the security drawbacks and unrealistic predictions, the Internet of Things never failed to elicit excitement in the tech community and industry leaders. Some companies are doubling down on their IoT research and preparing for wider implementation. Others are doing their best to find solutions to the security issues. Small and medium businesses are getting ready to redefine what IoT can be used for. And if blockchain turns out to be as good for IoT as speculated, 2018 can be a pivotal year for IoT.