Things To Come This Year

What lies ahead for the Internet of Things?


What will happen in the Internet of Things during 2017? No one truly knows. Some 2016 trends can be teased out to provide prognostications for the 12 months ahead.

Parks Associates released a white paper in December, “Top 10 Consumer IoT Trends in 2017,” which notes that U.S. broadband households have an average of more than eight connected computing, entertainment, and mobile devices, along with two connected home devices, such as networked cameras, smart lighting, or smart thermostats.

“Consumer interaction with the devices and services in their lives – at home, in the car, on the go – will continue to evolve in 2017 to be more personal and targeted,” Jennifer Kent, director, research quality and product development at Parks Associates, said in a statement. “Approximately 50% of U.S. broadband households plan to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months, and they will tie these devices to their mobile platforms, broadband connections, and other devices to create a singular but ever-expanding user experience.”

Parks says voice control is on the rise for IoT devices, while the smart home business is keying in on energy management and security.

Cybersecurity will be a watchword in IoT during 2017, following October’s distributed denial-of-service attack that affected multiple websites for a day, and a continuing string of data breaches. Scott Zoldi, chief analytics officer for FICO, writes, “It should come as no surprise that we predict 2017 to be the year of enhanced cybersecurity. We have heard it before, but never has it resonated as strongly as it does now. We believe 2017 will see the above cyber trends take flight as the natural response to the events of 2016 and the fear it has inspired in boardrooms across all industries.”

Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, deep learning, and machine learning will be leading topics in 2017, overtaking and exceeding IoT as a hot topic, according to some observers.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is still a popular buzzword, but adoption will continue to be slow,” says Prat Moghe, CEO of Cazena. “Analyzing data from IoT and sensors clearly has the potential for massive impact, but most companies are far (FAR!) from ready. IoT will continue to get lots of lip service, but actual deployments will remain low. Complexity will continue to plague early adopters that find it a major challenge to integrate that many moving parts. Companies will instead focus resources on other low-hanging fruit data and analytics projects first.”

MachNation surveyed 35 IoT platform vendors and came up with a prediction that IoT platform revenue will increase 116% in 2017 to $2 billion. “The IoT application enablement space is the most rapidly developing piece of the IoT technology stack,” Dima Tokar, chief technology officer of MachNation, said in a statement. “There are many choices out there, but there is a big difference between the strongest and weakest vendors in the market.”

Steve Wilkes, CTO at Striim, also anticipates growth in IoT platforms, as they gain in capabilities. “Organizations adopting IoT will be forced towards event-driven streaming architectures to handle the processing and analytics of huge volumes of rapidly produced (fast and vast) data,” he says. “This shift will enable these organizations to apply streaming technologies to other integration and analytics use-cases outside of IoT.”

Wilkes adds, “Low-power mesh networks will begin to replace single-point-of-failure access points and enable disparate IoT devices to interact within a mesh environment.”

Jaroslaw Czaja, CEO of Future Processing, forecasts four areas in IoT for 2017: Monetization, government adoption, risk, and hacking. “The influx of money being spent on the Internet of Things will lead to a vast upsurge in the amount of connected technology that we will use in our homes and cities next year. A huge amount of money will be spent on the IoT in 2017, but will we have to pay lots to own and use these emerging technologies?” he writes.

Czaja continues, “Obviously, business customers will still be the largest target for IoT implementation. However, it is predicted that governments will be the second-largest adopters of the IoT ecosystems in 2017.”

IoT risks concern him. “By increasing the amount of IoT devices and solutions, the risk and exposure of the IoT will also accumulate. An underlying cause for this risk, in terms of security, is a lack of regulations and standards across IoT devices,” he writes.

Finally, there are those hackers trying to infiltrate networks and systems. “By using connected devices, a large-scale IoT security breach is to be expected in the most vulnerable areas, such as surveillance or fleet management in transportation. Although, the IoT attacks will not stop there. Hackers will also target smaller, and less important, devices, just to prove that they can,” Czaja writes.

Verizon Communications has been quite active in the IoT sector. During 2016, the company acquired Fleetmatics, Sensity Systems, and Telogis to expand its IoT business, and it has reasonable expectations of realizing $1 billion in IoT-related revenue during 2017.

“We do have some responsibility to bring solutions into the marketplace that solve big problems,” Mark Bartolomeo, vice president of Verizon’s Internet of Things business, said in this interview. “Problems around safety. Problems around security and economic growth. Those types of problems aren’t going to be solved by small entrepreneur companies. They simply don’t have the scale. They have pieces of the solutions, and we work closely with them. Particularly when we look at things relative to sustainability, we drop down a little bit and talk about resource efficiency, resource utilization, and resource management.”

Verizon will be focusing on precision agriculture – IoT for farms and vineyards – in the year ahead. The company is currently serving customers in that field in the Salinas Valley of California and in Ohio. Verizon currently offers analytics software and sensors for such ag applications as soil moisture, temperatures, and ambient moisture of foliage. The telecommunications giant is also delving into food safety and the IoT, collaborating with Ward Aquafarms, which raises oysters on Cape Cod, and with Mobotix for a system to monitor bags of oysters as they are transported to restaurants and supermarkets.

2017 promises to be a year of deployment and expansion in IoT, provided that companies in the field can offer secure products and services, while possibly coming up with more widely accepted industry standards, especially in the area of connectivity protocols.

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