The Internet of Things (IoT), or as many refer to it, the Internet of Everything (IoE), fueled by the power of big data, is changing the world as we know it. And it’s definitely changing the face of business and what business innovation looks like. Consider this: In 2008 there were more things connected to the Internet than there were humans. Today, there are 4.9 billion connected things. By 2020, Gartner predicts there will be 25 billion connected things. So, yes indeed the IoT will be a powerful force for business innovation—is your business ready? Let’s explore what’s happening and the things you might consider moving forward.
IoT By The Numbers
That 26 billion connected things predicted by Gartner is estimated to eventually generate incremental revenue of nearly $300 billion for product and service suppliers. The industries most rapidly adopting and using IoT today are manufacturing, utilities, and transportation. By 2020, that’s expected to morph to utilities, manufacturing, and government. Take a look at this graph from Gartner from late in 2014 to get an idea of where we are by the numbers—pretty amazing, isn’t it?
As you can see, the automotive industry is a big adopter of IoT—just think about how connected our cars have become—and with self-driving cars being in our immediate future, that will continue to grow. Another Gartner forecast reflects that approximately one out of every five vehicles worldwide will feature some wireless connection by 2020, bringing the connected vehicle tally to more than 250 million. Other IoT growth is forecasted off the roadways, of course, everything from wearables to home safety to fully connected kitchens.
Source: Business Insider, 2014
In our increasingly mobile and IT-savvy society, you’re probably not surprised to learn that the use of devices—especially tablets and smartphones, is expected to continue their upward growth trends. But look at what’s predicted to happen with the IoT, including connected TVs, wearables, and connected cars. Now THAT predicted growth is pretty amazing, isn’t it?
It should be plain to you now that an IoT takeover is coming quickly. Do you need more context? Pull out that cell phone, feel its weight in your palm, and think about this for a moment: In 2023, a short eight years from now, Linley Group reports that the IoT market will surpass the number of smartphones. Do you know anyone without a smartphone? I’ll bet you don’t. I know I don’t. Soon, we’ll be asking one another the same thing about the IoT. And having conversations with our robots and our refrigerators.
The Business Impact of IoT
One primary fact about the IoT is that it can offer users a sort of structured, contextual awareness not available from the unconnected devices of the past. Think combining sensibility and personality with new and exciting technology, and you end up with the unique business impact potential of the IoT.
This business impact is already apparent for the wearables market. IoT-connected devices can interface with users’ (or wearers’) moods, emotions, and physiological cues. That practical value offered by a wearable with context-driven, user-centric apps, combined with the fact that it can also be a customizable fashion statement, propels its appeal (especially for smaller, more niche businesses).
What You Should Know About the IoT of Tomorrow
So we’ve covered the projected growth of the IoT and discussed the business impact as it relates to contextual awareness. Now what? What other key things do you need to know about the IoT of tomorrow? Here are a few more factors to consider:
- Look for a rise in artificial intelligence (AI), as more IoT devices not only empower users, but also gather information about their lifestyles and habits.
- That rise in AI means more data, and more data means an increased need for skilled professionals to analyze it. Current employees will need to be retrained based on their knowledge of the importance of data, and hiring additional staff may be unavoidable. This is an especially important consideration at the enterprise level.
- The trickle-down effect of all this data will mean big things for government and infrastructure, as organizations will be able to better determine the practical allotment of supplies and resources.
- Prepare for every IT professional within your company to become an expert on security. With the influx of data comes a huge rise in opportunities for error, and you can afford no gaps if you want to stay ahead. This will require additional training and expense, but it will be worthwhile as you navigate the ups and downs of the IoT market. Again, this is of particular importance to the enterprise.
- Any IoT-ready product you design should have a clear ROI for you and your investors, of course, but it should also have a clearly demonstrated value to your target consumer. Products and services that offer utility and do so cost-effectively and with a simple user interface will stand out from the rest.
As we all know, growth does not come without its challenges—and even with all its promise, the IoT is not immune. Gartner’s report listed the following potential challenges for your business as you navigate the IoT takeoff:
- As mentioned earlier, additional security concerns will arise with the inundation of connected devices in more (and new) situations and environments.
- The big data created by the connectively of the IoTs could cause a strain on existing security and IT storage capabilities.
- Consumer privacy will become an even larger consideration, especially with more personal types of data driving the IoT.
- Bandwidth necessities will drastically increase as massive amounts of sensor information inbounds into servers and data centers previously catering to small or moderate amounts of data.
From the mainstream development of connected wearables to the necessitation of a new breed of security tools, one thing is for certain: The IoT promises to touch most businesses across the spectrum of enterprise sooner rather than later.
Where does your business fit in? If you’ve already embraced the IoT to some degree, what challenges have you faced? Any tips to share with others as they embark upon this path? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
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This post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. For more on these topics, visit Dell’s thought leadership site Power More. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”