The forces behind the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) are no doubt powerful and transformative. New protocols, services, and systems will support the emerging IoT economy in many exciting and significant ways. In doing so, companies−large and are small− will become digital businesses with new business models that are more efficient and revenue-ripe. In addition to shrinking operational costs, the free flow of data and information between ‘smart’ network-connected devices, will give organizations the ability to collect and share real-time information about almost every aspect of their business. IoT also opens businesses to larger data-driven digital ecosystems. IoT connections give organizations a broader customer audience, as well as linkages to additional partners and other innovators. For instance, a vehicle or heavy highway machine fleet owner may collect sensor data from its trucks to improve preventative maintenance. Combined with predictive analytics, they may use that data to forecast costly mechanical failures, before they happen. This information can also be transmitted to suppliers or service centers, where parts are ordered, and technicians are notified of needed repairs. Along these same lines, if this manufacture also leases its vehicles out, they can now monetize their IoT data by offering predictive maintenance packages that automatically schedule and manage repairs when needed. IoT is helping companies tackle critical and high-dollar issues related to industrial asset management, inventory control, warehouse management, and supply chain management.
Nearly every industry from manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, energy, to agriculture, retail, and electronics can benefit from IoT. With the endless possibilities surrounding IoT, it’s no wonder that analysts are predicting that IoT could deliver a $2 trillion economic boost worldwide and that there will be some 25 billion connected IoT devices installed throughout the world by 2022. (Source: Statista). To better understand where we’re headed, let’s dive deeper into the biggest drivers and enablers that support IoT and look at how that could impact your business.
- Internet Protocol IPv6 supports real real-time information sharing- Internet Protocol (IP) is the ‘language’ that enables device-to-device communications. In addition to solving the problem of a scarce number of Pv4 addresses available, the newest release of IP−IPv6− supports next-generation IoT and moves the real-time-vision of data exchange much closer to reality. That’s because IPv6 eliminates much of the administrative overhead involved with IPv4 networks, allowing for faster packet processing and bandwidth efficiency through multi-casting, among other things. IPv6 also means that providers can build more efficient networks, with mobile connectivity and interoperability top of mind. These developments are substantial because mobile networks are expected to support about 4 billion new mobile-connected devices and connections from 2016 to 2021. (Source: Cisco). Larger, more innovative and efficient networks will increase revenue opportunities for service providers and for the businesses they support.
- Edge computing- Most analysts believe that our current on-prem and hybrid cloud infrastructures won’t be sufficient in managing a massive amount of data collected and shared between IoT devices. To meet these increasing, data, storage and processing requirements, edge computing offers a complementary model. Edge computing is where data is processed closer to where it’s collected, rather than having it sent across long routes to the data center or cloud. It is a foundational shift that’s contributing to the rise of IoT. Because an edge computing architecture pushes hardware closer to where data is collected, latency issues are minimized. As analytics continue to move to the edge, organizations will need to refocus on security at a hardware level- for endpoints and devices- as opposed to recently where there’s been a concentrated effort to secure devices at a software level.
- Blockchain services add security and privacy to IoT data- Blockchain services are a critical enabler of IoT because they tackle privacy and security concerns around transferring data to and from internet-connected devices. Originally used to protect cryptocurrencies, blockchain creates a secure platform that is independent of all parties. The idea is that by distributing data across multiple sources, security threats can be quickly identified, and damage can be remediated. Blockchain supports the full-promise of IoT, by allowing real-time IoT data to be used while preserving the privacy of the parties. Blockchain services offer a higher level of security from data theft, which the IoT network needs to continue to grow as expected. It’s so effective that IDC predicts that by 2019, 20% of all IoT deployments will have basic levels of blockchain services enabled. (Source: IDC).
For the IoT vision to work both for businesses and for consumers, ubiquitous connectivity is a primary requirement. New technologies and systems that address connectivity, streamlined communications, and new ways to secure data traffic from diverse devices will bring us much closer to unlocking the full potential of IoT.