The year 2018 was a remarkable milestone in the evolutionary timeline of IoT. The gross number of Connected Device installations crossed 10 billion worldwide, with a related acceleration in platform development and support. It is also estimated that global spending on IoT hit a massive $2000 B by Q3 of the year – a number so huge its stability and impact could lay a bedrock for the future IoT ventures.
Since the aftershock of this revolution would definitely do justice to the origin, tech experts also forecast a growth two-fold in two years; by 2020, 21 billion end-devices are projected to be in use.
At this point of rapid transition from older technologies of manual and unoptimized machine operations to modern systems with automated and optimized process flow, one should be rather curious than be enthralled. Any technology that follows a straight path like this with uncompromised pace will suffer backlashes. Especially from a social and technological community that can hardly keep up with the speed. Such is the rate at which the scope of IoT expands. And that is why we have to scrutinize the growth pattern; nevertheless, investing copious amounts of time in developing support to the technology that would soon overhang beyond the present base structure.
Going through the growth reports sourced from Gartner (Source: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3598917), Consumer IoT is the area that enjoyed the premium influence – despite the skepticism still brooding within the base-level consumer minds, the increase in a number of end-point installations are worth taking note of. It is interesting; perhaps it is IoT’s ability to spread itself to the simplest of consumer devices like regular smartphones and dedicated minuscule domestic control devices that exploit the generic laziness of humans to perform a task, or just the desire to keep up with the cutting edge of Gen Alpha techs, the numbers suggest a technological overtake over orthodox thinking.
You know IoT has buried its arms deep into every stratum of social establishments and got accepted when even our regular skeptic would secretly enjoy calling Alexa to play some relaxing music or just set an alarm for the laundry machine to kick off.
Let’s talk money
As there was already a mentioning about the present monetary stand and targeted forecast, in the beginning, let us not ramble around but straightly venture into number crunching.
In the early stages of IoT evolution, placed somewhere around 2014, the gross device installation numbers were 2.28 B in consumer IoT sector while only a mere 1.5 B devices were installed in businesses. Although the gap doesn’t seem so concerning to naked eyes, it must be noted that IoT was actually supposed to revamp the industries before domestic affairs – being dubbed the ignition of Industrial revolution 4.0, that was what supposed of it. But unlikely to popular predictions, the home automation and home user support technologies rose up.
But this didn’t impact the financial flow into industrial IoT. Up until 2017, IIoT maintained the status quo of having the most monetary value worldwide in IoT employments, which was rather obvious – industrial connected devices ecosystem was always supposed to be heavy, super-functional, and intensely productive that demanded huge expenditure in R&D and deployment.
With the advent of automated process flow with real-time data monitoring and analytics using supercomputers and Edge computing, IIoT beamed forward to 3 billion deployments by 2017 – a justifiable upgrade that could stand tall against the 5 billion domestic mini device deployments. By the end of the year, approx. $950 B have been invested in IIoT alone, going neck-to-neck with the growing home automation consumer IoT sector.
Tides turned in 2018.
How it impacted business?
-is the question that is actually relevant.
Consumer IoT sector flourished for the sake of comfort and pleasure of the home customer. It very well serves the purpose too.
Did IoT bring an equal impact on business as well? – is the question worth asking here, to which tech junkies definitely answer yes – no arguments there. But How? – is something that needs to be studied.
The simple answer is platforms.
“IoT platform vendors with innovative and differentiated products that become standard across a particular industrial sector, or sectors, will have the market advantage” – Neil Strother, Navigant Research.
The last few years witnessed a massive increase in the number of platform vendors, which wasn’t necessarily surprising given the rising need for dedicated and unique support software for varying instances of IoT implementation. From the broad categorization based on the area of deployment, multiple verticals evolved – based on functionality, specific requirements, connectivity, spatial, and focus constraints. Although the core features and functions of IoT platforms are the same for most times, it is to be mentioned that each differs from the other in very minor but crucial properties, and that makes choosing the right one cumbersome. With the tech conglomerates stepping foot into providing proprietary solutions and the fat member lists of open source development communities, we have more than 400 active platforms to choose from now.
Efficiency – it is a function of compatibility. The very basic idea of better compatibility resulting in better efficiency applies in the case of IoT deployment too. As far as businesses and industries are concerned, the requirements and deployment criteria vary, hence choosing the right platform for deployment is key to achieving the intended target.
For example, if you run a small-scale industry with minimal scope for mechanical workplace automation but can benefit heavily from improved connectivity with decentralized computing, choosing a Connectivity IoT platform with integrated connectivity solutions would prove to be effective and economical than deploying Connected Devices with a full-scale, end-to-end comprehensive platform.
AI integration – According to a survey, 84% of the participated respondents indicated that they are currently, or willing to employ AI in their business for technological and competitive advantage. (Source: Forbes.com)
More than half the entire executive community believes AI is a strategic priority in their business. With the possibilities still under study, it is safe to assume the number of people who’d opt to integrate AI with their IoT ecosystems for efficient data analytics and process control will rise. In 2018, the trend resonated well with a noticeable increase in the adoption rate of AI and ML to business.
Mobility and Analytics – Space and location constraints became null and void when smart devices connected to each other; Edge computing using secure networks pushed IoT to the next levels where one could easily monitor and manage their processes from anywhere on the globe. Along with this should be specially noted the role of end-devices in data collection and analysis. Data informatics and sciences flourished in 2018 with key players emerging, all the while raising suspicion about data security and privacy. Still being a controversial issue, data assimilation using portable devices simultaneously benefit the consumer as well as corporates, obviously for different reasons. Regardless of that, data being a very expensive product, IoT kind of sells its point there – it enhances customer experience while providing companies a new pathway of business.
User Experience – Feedback and response – the right way you design your business so that the elephant in the room, here, the customer, is satisfied. IoT with its super vast networks brings to your hands the valuable customer information that you require to build a foundation for your next step. UX study just doesn’t end there though; it gives you insights on how you are doing, and how you are treating the clients. That is the reason why this particular sector has received a massive boost in significance lately. Although the trend doesn’t confine to 2018, one must say it carried over really well, with many new tools rising to manage the UX analysis and providing a response. Integration of AI chatbots backed by cloud-based analytics databases is just one of the primary tactics the industry envisioned and implemented for this.
A study conducted among 2,200 professionals across the world has found almost 47% of them to suggest IoT as a top trend influencing user experience. (Source: marketingcharts.com).
The example of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines substantiates this. It has been found that their Facebook Messenger “BB” interacted with approx. 500,000 customers till date, leaving them satisfied and happy. (Source: convinceandconvert.com)
What about 2019?
The question still stands; are we there yet?
If all the opportunities IoT presents are listed in bullets before us, I personally bet it is going to be a really long list. But the question stands. Are we ready to fully explore the potential of IoT? With technologies like AI incorporated, 2019 faces a huge challenge of keeping up with the pace of this technology all the while expanding our knowledge and software infrastructure to fully match the requirements to solutions. The challenges raised by security is another issue. Nevertheless, one must admit even though it is going to be a long journey, IoT and the human population will have one of their best years in 2019 in their joint venture forward.