IoT for Business: Trends for 2018

Recent estimates put the number of IoT connected devices at between 8 and 15 billion – more than human beings on the planet. We’re talking everything from sensors, voting machines and pacemakers to voice-activated cars, personal assistants in the home (like Alexa) and personal health trackers (like FitBit and Leaf), along with toys, security devices, and even toothbrushes and pillows.

The good news for you, they’re mostly mobile, and they all need to be connected. But how do you sell customers
on the idea that IoT is past trend stage?

From digital twinning to CARTA (continuous adaptive risk and trust), the upper echelon of IoT is drawing a lot of bleeding-edge interest. For most practical CIOs and CTOs, such top-tier IoT trends for 2018 are a bit like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Interesting? Certainly. Entertaining? Most definitely. But useful in the trenches? Not so much.

As digital services sellers know, in most organizations, IoT applications are merely starting to gain traction. Therefore, it’s critical that when you talk to senior leaders, you have the practical capabilities locked in and loaded.

For those of us old enough to remember “The Jetsons,” we’re closer now than our parents would have ever imagined. For business, this is the same game changer the smartphone revolution was – but on varying scales based on industry. It’s still early enough to make serious inroads to IoT adoption and innovation, but we’ve already seen enough establishment to know this is the direction the industry is heading.

From last year ’s Mirai botnet explosion, to new threats like IoT Reaper and ransomware outbreaks, IoT security is the elephant in the room. Half-baked security patches have exacerbated the problem. Toby Simpson, CTO of Fetch.AI , a company that services IOT infrastructure says the Internet of Things right now is largely a collection of unpatched, poorly secured Linux devices that have never and will never see a security update of any form. “They talk different languages, require different and incompatible applications to use and most of the ones consumers use are developed as a result of the good old-fashioned race to the bottom to pop out the cheapest device possible,” he says. “Security must be solved and more of these wonderful things must play nicely together for us to see their real value come out,” he adds. To be successful, Simpson urges CIOs to think about “a secure, decentralized environment based on trust which can be verified by all where all devices with value to give must behave in a certain way and meet certain standards.”

“IoT is here to stay , unfortunately , and until the industry acknowledges that technology (of any kind) creates more problems than it solves, we will continue this cycle of rushing to the “next big thing”/silver-bullet solution only to discover later on that we’ve been compromised by a fatal flaw in the design, or more commonly the implementation of all the IT and cybersecurity solutions that have permeated our existence,” says Man.

Josh Siegel, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead lecturer and organizer of MIT’s IoT Bootcamp , hits the point hard. “IoT is not about individual devices, or individual people – it’s about what can be done when everything is instrumented, connected and controllable,” he says. Seigel’s team focuses on four main areas for IoT :
•    sensing (how IoT devices and services get data)
•    connectivity (how IoT moves data to where it is most useful)
•    inference (turning raw streams of data into meaningful information)
•    action (taking insight and feeding it back to an individual or into a system so IoT can have impact).
“The connected car is huge; the quantified self is just as big. Connected homes and factories will change how we live and produce. But, at the end of the day, it’s the inferences we can make and the applications that exist between today’s conventional market silos that give IoT its transformative power,” Seigel says. “It’s not about the car or the home, it’s about how your car can talk to your home to tell it that you’ll be arriving home early because your car talked to the roadway to avoid traffic, and now you need to put the heat on a little bit sooner than you would – while still saving energy due to having a smart thermostat. People aren’t used to thinking in such terms today.”

Cybersecurity will also undermine a lot of connected devices in the near –term future, with hackable devices and data leakage becoming very real concerns. People are upset about the Equifax leak (and rightfully so!), but IoT devices have the potential to leak information that’s just as sensitive and valuable.

When it comes to IoT, the linchpin is all in how you deal with the millions of new data points. Your engineers need to be armed with that data through a good data scientist and someone who can spin that information into innovation gold.

The biggest trend in IoT for 2018 and beyond, however, is speed. Regulatory hurdles and adoption rates can vary widely across industries and the one challenge that impacts every IoT company is the critical need to move fast.

Siegel warns temperance for the IoT hype cycle, saying it will kill a lot of good ideas. “Hype can get people excited about applications prematurely and scorch the earth of consumer perception, long after the relevant technologies have matured,” he says. “When the other tech problems are solved, the company may be too burnt- out to return for another try.”