In the IoT era, “things” are creating data. This means that the globally available data is growing at breakneck speed. It’s estimated that there will be 50 billion to 70 billion IoT devices in action by the end of 2020. The volume of data they’d generate, the insights that would be available from the data, and the applications of the same — it’s all very fascinating.
For businesses, however, the fascination is not exactly a good reason to invest their money into ambitious IoT projects. They need to know and understand the latest from the world of IoT, appreciate the information in the context of business applications, and then commission projects in the domain.
If you want to know only the most relevant and latest from the world of IoT, read on.
IoT devices outnumber non-IoT connected devices
Estimates vary; however, it’s generally agreed that there close to 8 billion IoT connected devices already active (as of 2017). This is considerably higher than the 7 billion non-IoT connected devices (laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets). This means that businesses can’t really afford to wait a few more years before investing in connected equipment, wearable devices, and other IoT endpoints.
Major adopters of IoT
Ever since IoT became a global tech buzzword in 2016, pioneers from several industries invested in the technology. Some have been able to establish business use cases quicker than others. Consequently, business organizations can look up to those who’ve successfully leveraged IoT already.
Among the most notable success stories of IoT, most come from industrial asset management and fleet management in transportation. The “smart city” concept is highly trending and is heavily centered on IoT. The concept revolves around the idea of connected people, machines, and public databases of ever-improving and expanding data used to enhance governance, particularly in areas such as public safety, quality of life, and environmental health.
IoT cloud: The ground-breaking technological innovation
IoT deployments’ success depends heavily on cloud backend (Infrastructure as a Service). Microsoft and Amazon focus heavily on this aspect, as is clear from the pace at which both tech giants have added new features in their respective cloud IoT offerings throughout 2017.
For instance, Microsoft’s much talked about Azure IoT Edge lets small devices run cloud-enabled services even though the device isn’t connected to the cloud. Amazon, in turn, has expanded its device management and security features, most of which were announced at re:Invent in November 2017.
In a major move, Google launched its Cloud IoT Core platform in May 2017. The launch indicated how Google considers IoT cloud “big.” All three of these tech giants are expected to expand the availability of cloud management and config tools dedicated for IoT operations. This is where businesses need to look.
IoT security legislation
If you think security and IoT devices is just another chapter in the glorified and overhyped security textbooks recommended for digitally powered businesses, think again. The IoT cybersecurity attack on Dyn servers in 2017 is ample proof — the threats are real. Nothing increases the threat surface area of an organization as it’s IoT devices.
Governments across the globe are looking for suitable frameworks to build laws to govern connected-devices from the IoT universe. In August 2017, the “Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act” was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the bill is to establish the minimum standards of security for IoT devices.
Though the bill is still far from being passed, it showcases how businesses need to track updates from this domain, to make sure their IoT projects, devices, and tools remain on the right side of laws.
Edge computing: A rapidly evolving driver of IoT
Before anything, understand that edge computing is an architecture wherein specific data analytics activities (for low latency use cases) are performed locally, rather than in the cloud. “Locally,” here, could mean that the calculations are carried out within the sensor, within the device, or on the gateway. This architecture ensures that critical analytics is carried out locally, leveraging machine learning in real time, whereas heavy lifting analytics can be carried out in the cloud.
Dell is a major player, driving innovation in edge computing. Dell’s newly formed IoT Solutions Division is a lead investor in startups focusing on edge computing. The open source project Edge X Foundry, launched in April 2017, is also backed by Dell (among dozens of other contributors). Edge computing has quickly evolved from being an enabler of connectivity to being a driver of distributed intelligence in the IoT world.
There’s been a serious debate on whether edge computing architecture has the potential to supersede cloud computing architecture. Businesses would do well to evaluate how they can use both architectures, instead of waiting for the debates to declare a winner.
Another equally relevant expansion of IoT is the “Integration of Things.” IoT depends on the core idea of integration to drive business applications. However, integration has been the biggest challenge for IoT projects till now. Lack of industry standards has been a major roadblock in the progress of IoT. This, however, is being addressed with the emergence of standards for semantic integration such as OPC-UA and RAMI. Adoption, however, is slow and will take time.
IoT, ML, and analytics: The perfect ecosystem
Businesses have realized this — IoT needs a proper ecosystem to deliver the promised business benefits. IoT devices generate massive data, and that’s where analytics capabilities become important. To keep on improving the insights from analytics, machine learning (ML) has a major role to play. Together, all these forces ensure that data streams from ‘things’, eventually, transform into wisdom!
Though the volume of searches about IoT has hit a plateau, as per a Google Trends reports, most of it is because the technology has matured. There’s a lot happening. Legislations are being formulated, industry standards are being established, tech giants are rapidly innovating. To make IoT an ingredient of your business’ successful digital transformation, stay in tune with latest from the IoT universe.
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