As another year has raced by, one thing we know for sure is that the “Internet of Things” (IoT) is not just hype –it’s transforming how companies do business and delivering real results. And as more and more businesses make the IoT shift to focus on connected services, the demands for advanced wireless technologies and heightened security will accelerate. With that in mind, here are our top predictions for the coming year…
1. Low Power Wide Area Networks will gain mainstream adoption in 2017
Everyone’s been talking about LPWAN technology for years, but traction has been limited. 2017 will be the year where LPWAN technologies become widely adopted by business across many industries.
For years, cellular connectivity has been the primary transport for IoT due to its ubiquity, scalability and security. But as the number of services enabled by IoT devices continues to grow exponentially, many IoT applications have arisen that require long range and low-power capabilities. For example, a sensor that is deployed far out in rural areas to check oil tank levels needs to be able to operate on a tiny battery for years without requiring it to be replaced.
This is where Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) come in. For the past few years, a number of different standards have emerged to compete for LPWAN dominance. 3GPP has specified three LPWA technologies: EC-GSM-IoT, LTE MTC Cat M1 and NB-IoT. A large group of operators and infrastructure vendors have come together as the LoRa Alliance to promote the benefits of LoRaWAN. And other mobile operators, along with companies like Salesforce and Intel Capital, have invested in SigFox.
2017 will be the year where these LPWAN technologies start to gain traction, and which flavor of LPWAN technology gains the most ground will provide an indicator of where the winners and losers in LPWAN will fall.
2. Governments will step in to mandate higher IoT security
High profile DDoS attacks such as those in late October which took down the likes of Twitter, Netflix, Spotify and PlayStation, helped to highlight the need for improved levels of security in IoT environments. As the number of connected devices ramps up, we will see not only more cyber criminals attracted to IoT, but also more sophisticated types of attack.
As IoT continues to expand beyond businesses and into the realm of smart cities and connected government programs, the requirement for watertight security will continue to rise. 2017 will be the year where we see policy makers and governments step in to mandate IoT security guidelines across industries. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security just issued its “Strategic Principles for Securing the Internet of Things (IoT)” document in November.
3. 5G will need to get real about what it can and cannot do
To date, the conversation about 5G has been about the incredible gains in flexibility, high bandwidth, and low power that 5G would deliver. It has been billed by some as the wireless panacea. But we’ve been here before, first with 3G and then more recently with LTE. Experiences can underwhelm if expectations have been raised too high.
We know that 5G will be a distinct improvement on 4G, but it is simply not realistic for 5G to live up to all of its expectations. In 2017, the industry will course-correct and focus on the realities of 5G instead. This will help bring clarity into which wireless technologies (cellular, LPWAN, etc.) will be best for different deployment scenarios.
4. Big IoT Data analytics will generate Big Revenue
Big Data and IoT are often considered in isolation from one another, but there is a huge overlap. As IoT gains momentum, the volume of data generated will be stratospheric. Not only will there be more data, but there will be different types of data, and data from sources that have yet to be considered. All this new data points to fresh opportunities for revenue generation.
Big Data analytics will evolve into a distributed analytics model, which will help with the monetization of IoT data. We will see more devices capable of analyzing data locally, processing and capturing the most important data for more real-time IoT services.
5. IoT will make AR/VR useful, not just a game
To date, the primary focus of AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) has been entertainment and gaming with apps like Pokemon Go and devices like the Oculus Rift grabbing the headlines. However, when combined with IoT services, AR and VR have the potential to become serious business tools.
One of the key use cases we will see in 2017 will be the deployment of AR and VR in connected manufacturing and factory settings. For example, combined IoT/VR solutions will enable factory workers to view (via AR/VR goggles) the health and operational efficiency of all connected robots and equipment. By looking at a robot, workers will be able to see if that machine is functioning properly, or whether it needs maintenance.