The nearly unparalleled attention surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2014 was based on a combination of factors:
- The IoT builds on interest in Big Data: Considered retrospectively, one of the primary purposes of gathering massive amounts of multifaceted data types in real time is to facilitate the degree of interconnectivity provided by the Internet of Things. The IoT inherited global interest in Big Data and expands on it.
- The IoT suggests the full potential of data: If data is the lifeblood of an organization, the IoT is ultimately the body—the collection of numerous organs (data sources) that interact with one another to keep things properly functioning at optimal levels. The fact that such a synthesis approach to data can extend beyond the workplace and impact personal lives through smart cities, appliances, and mobile devices only increase that potential.
- Vendors have embraced it: With multimillion dollar acquisitions and announcements from major vendors such as Cisco, Google, and IBM punctuating news headlines about the Internet of Things throughout the year, it has maintained public scrutiny and increased anticipation for its utility.
2015 will see no shortage of such publicity, but will also bring significant refinement in the application of the IoT in all of its realms—the Industrial Internet, mobile, public, and private consumer convenience uses.
Improving the Industrial Internet
“You look at the Internet of Things and it’s probably the industrial sector where we’re going to see a lot of the big returns,” MapR chief marketing executive Jack Norris said. “The consumer convenience items will probably clog a lot of the articles but not really be where the action is.”
The Industrial Internet sector of the IoT is responsible for its continued expansion for the past several years. The primary application of the Industrial Internet is asset management, in which a sophisticated series of real-time and predictive analytics continuously monitors equipment and provides timely information pertaining to diagnostics, maintenance, failures, and more. Additional benefits include selling equipment monitoring capabilities to OEM’s and their customers.
The real-time monitoring of these equipment assets utilizes the same sort of Operational Intelligence that is pivotal to low or no latency monitoring of data relevant to hedge funds, e-commerce, and numerous marketing applications. The number of vendors developing Operational Intelligence capabilities applicable to industrial equipment (oil rigs, aeronautical parts, etc) should continue to multiply and, in the process, help those utilizing legacy proprietary systems transition to technology that is inclusive and truly reflective of the IoT’s connectivity between a multitude of devices and systems. The majority of spending on the Internet of Things in 2015 will likely continue to involve the Industrial Internet.
Throughout the Enterprise
According to Gartner: “…there is difference between proprietary and closed implementations of connected assets and the IoT” (LeHong and Velosa, 2014). The true potential of the IoT is in the absorption and transmission of machine generated data to produce machine generated responses which create action. Outside of the Industrial Internet, the sector of the IoT that is most likely to take advantage of this potential in 2015 involves enterprises that rely upon Operational Intelligence for real-time data to generate revenue. The factor that is increasing their ability to do so, and slowly boosting the adoption rate for the IoT in general, is the growing number of analytics vendors that are specializing in instantaneous analytics on time sensitive data.
As these vendors and their capabilities continue to improve, the critical issues preventing widespread adoption of the IoT—security, integration, and methods of monetization—are gradually getting addressed. Many of these vendors offer tools that issue alerts, generate notes, and inform users about their data and its relevance to business objectives. The coming year should see greater functionality offered by these analytics tools and the trend in which they are offered as platforms addressing security and integration issues, which should stimulate IoT adoption rates.
At present, a relatively modest section of the IoT is predicated on mobile technology. The most eminent of these technologies are centered on smartphones and marketing. The sensors in these devices are accessed by marketing departments which issue certain promotions based on customer and product location, typically for retail ventures. However, as mobile adoption rates increase due to advances in analytics platforms with greater security and overall functionality, the relevance of mobile technologies for the IoT should diversify its applications. The health care industry will play a part in this trend, as devices such as smartwatches, wristbands, and smartphones, can monitor patient data pertaining to heart rate, blood pressures, and other factors that can be monitored in real time by health care professionals. Additionally, smart capabilities for vehicles are also being developed and may reach production in earnest by the end of next year.
Secure Cloud Analytics
Other than integration with other data sets, enterprise wide deployments of the IoT to achieve business objectives hinge on the confluence of analytics, the Cloud, and security concerns. As previously noted, the analytics aspect of the IoT is rapidly being addressed by vendors routinely offering options to handle the speed of IoT analytics. Elastic computing via the Cloud is one of the most useful means of dealing with issues relating to resource allocation, particularly when one considers the costs benefits associated with this option.
The Cloud environment for IoT analytics should significantly impact security measures. Gartner noted that, “The security market will continue to evolve alongside new requirements arising from the Internet of Things and cloud computing…Expected convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) security and information security technologies will drive demand for integrated threat intelligence capabilities” (Contu et al, 2014). Effective security measures will focus on the security of an organization’s physical data assets as well as those gleaned through the Cloud via the IoT. Options are projected to include secure analytics-as-a-service, forensics and data recovery capabilities, which are likely to parallel the demand for Internet of Things’ analytics in the Cloud and may become widely available after 2015.
The personal consumerization facet of the IoT, although garnering the most amount of publicity, will probably see the least amount of development out of the segments discussed in this article. Other than the aforementioned mobile use cases, these include conveniences associated with smart homes such as increased video functionality, smart televisions, and a host of other novelty devices that will probably remain costly and in low demand. More development is likely to be seen in the public sector, in which technologies for smart cities including cameras on law enforcement officials, energy reduction applications regarding lighting and traffic management, and water management will evince themselves but not garner widespread adoption until after 2015.
From Hardware to Software
Perhaps the most salient trend to emerge pertaining to the IoT in 2015 is a steady, deliberate transition from a preoccupation with hardware to the software required to implement and monetize the IoT at an enterprise level. The need to perform IoT analytics in a secure Cloud environment clearly denotes this tendency. The novelty associated with the IoT pertains to flashy devices that can connect to one another from anywhere with unheard of functionality, such as refrigerators setting temperatures according to food items and vehicles that sense driver fatigue and rattle the steering wheel to keep them awake. From a practical standpoint, actually facilitating these things in a reliable way will require a convergence of software. Forrester asserted:
“IoT software platforms will become the rage, displacing the hardware. Much of the early hype has been about cool new sensors, high-tech wearables, and new wireless technologies. In 2015 we’ll see increased focus on the software and especially the cloud services to make all these sensors connect, upload data, and drive analytics that generate insights and enable business improvements.”
Machine Generated Responses
The true potential of the IoT not only involves connectivity between a growing number of devices, but the ability to derive action from that connectivity. In the Industrial Internet, that action frequently takes the form of an alert or the call for an end user to take preventative or maintenance measures. The Internet of Things will gain widespread adoption throughout the enterprise when the connectivity between machines is used to generate machine generated responses that create action. There are some instances in which this functionality is possible, such as marketing tools that base customer offers on their locations and that of products. Greater functionality in this aspect of the IoT and use cases that can achieve business objectives throughout vertical industries will solidify the presence of the IoT.