If you follow technology trends, then you know that we are living in exciting times. Not only are developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), mobile communications, and data processing changing how we live and work. We are also on the verge of a world where the ‘ubiquitous internet’ kicks into overdrive.
With that in mind, here are 5 Internet of Things (IoT) trends the research team at 375 Park Associates believe will change your life in 2018.
Intro to IoT
I know, this is so 2015 but IoT covers more than just your Alexa device and smart refrigerators. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a definition of IoT ‘often depends on the particular vision of the proponent entity with respect to the assets that are deemed relevant.’ While this definition might be a bit too deep in the weeds, it does give you an idea of how thought leaders in the area are also struggling with the concept.
As the figure above shows, IoT is more than just physical assets. Today, IoT comprises a universe of internet-enabled devices (i.e. sensors, meters, smartphones, etc.), the software to power these devices, the networks they operate on, and, most importantly, anyone at any time. Basically, it is a world where everything is online all the time.
Truth be told, we are not far from making this dream a reality. According to Gartner, there are more than 8 billion IoT devices in the world today. This includes all those devices in your hotel room which allow you to order room service at three in the morning just by the using your voice. Forget phones, voice-enabled IoT is where it is at.
Taking it a step further, IoT is just getting started and even conservative forecasts call for more than 20 billion IoT devices in use by 2020 – if not sooner.
What is IoT? Well, it is fast becoming the world where we live, where everything is connected and where technology encompasses every industry – from agriculture to banking, to hotels, to zookeeping, and everything in between.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at the trends that will change your life.
Trend #1 – Voice
Yes, voice is already taking consumer IoT devices by storm. This is being driven by advances in natural language processing which has made it easier for machines to understand the way humans talk. Think about it, talking to the voice control in 2010 or 2011 model car is essentially pointless, while Alexa can understand just about everything you say.
One way in which voice-driven IoT is being put to good use is in the development of hotel technology such as Volara’s breakthrough guest engagement software. This system can operate on in-room devices such as the Amazon Echo and can be customized to meet the specific needs of hotel operators and their guests; thereby taking customer experience to a new level.
Beyond enhancing your hotel experience, voice-enabled IoT is becoming a critical tool in ongoing efforts to deliver the perfect customer experience. In fact, this is a perfect example of how strategic initiatives are blending with tech transformation projects.
Trend #2 – Blockchain
Ok, Ok, Blockchain is not exactly IoT, but it can help make IoT more secure. This addresses one of the biggest concerns with the billions of devices being propagated – security vulnerabilities. Many firms are already working on this and the result will be a safer and more secure IoT for everyone.
Doing so helps to build trust in an emerging technology which is likely to become ubiquitous soon. One example is the work of the IOTA Foundation to secure the mountains of data created by IoT-enabled devices. This includes launching a micropayment data marketplace that is being adopted by companies such as Accenture, Bosch, Deutsche Telekom, Microsoft, and PricewaterhouseCoopers among others.
Beyond this, blockchain is being used to help increase the speed and reduce the costs of transactions – in the end, the marriage of these technology trends could be just an important as adding voice.
In terms of businesses, the addition of blockchain will allow organizations to use an Alexa-enabled application to power transactions on a peer-to-peer basis from anywhere in the world. Think about it, you could order groceries from your hotel room that will be delivered when you get home – thus saving you a trip to the market after a long trip.
Trend #3 – Digital Twins
No, this is not a retread of the 1996 Michael Keaton movie. Instead, the concept of digital twins comes from the need to reinvent the toolbox – especially in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) space.
According Business Value Report from the IBM Institute, more than 50 percent of business leaders are turning to digital tools to help improve product quality, predict failures, and even the optimization of manufacturing operations.
This is where digital twins come in as they help close the gap between physical and digital devices. In doing so, they help to reduce capital investment costs by allowing a pathway to incrementally ‘digitize’ existing infrastructure at a fraction of what it would cost to do so otherwise.
One example is the Bugatti W16 engine. Not only is it the world’s most powerful internal combustion engine, it is also assembled completely by hand. Now, this might not sound like a case study in digital transformation but Bugatti’s leaders have found a way to bring their bespoke manufacturing into the 21st century.
The approach is one that has delivered an engine that moves beyond repair and replace – the W16 is not an overgrown sensor. Instead, the engine can predict driving patterns of each driver and adjust performance accordingly.
Granted the W16 is not the most fuel-efficient engine but integration of digital tools helps to improve the driving experience while simultaneously improving performance and engine life.
Another benefit is that the data will help Bugatti’s design team to make incremental improvements at a fraction of the cost – thus improving the agility of their research and development functions.
Trend #4 – Artificial Intelligence
Voice and Blockchain might be big, but AI is going to be the glue that will hold the world of tomorrow together. If data is the new oil, then cognitive computing is how we will manage and mine that data.
There is no other way as a world with more than 20 billion IoT devices will create more data that all of humanity could ever hope to process. As such, AI-enabled tools will help us to gain insights to make sense of this data.
Just like a toddler, AI is a quick learner and linking it to IoT helps to circumvent one of the inherent challenges to building robust AI engines – access to data.
One example is combining IoT devices with AI for threat intelligence. While another example would be emerging hotel technologies that would help to provide a more personalized experience based on your travel preferences.
In the end, it is not enough to collect the data and the use of AI is one of the best ways to enable leaders to unlock the value of IoT by making sense out of ‘dark data’. These insights will prove invaluable and hold the promise of transforming every industry.
Trend #5 – SaaS
It used to be that IoT devices required on-premise installations. However, that is about to change as 2018 is primed to be the year that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) comes to IoT in a big way.
Not only will this improve transparency in IoT systems but it will also reduce investment costs – a key lever to ramping up adoption.
How will the marriage of SaaS and IoT change your life? First, these systems will be easier to set up and connect and this will reduce the amount of time it takes to install IoT arrays on either an industrial or consumer basis.
Then there is the previously mentioned reduction in investment costs. Not only will this drive adoption but it will also help users to reach payback from their IoT investments sooner.
In fact, this might drive a cycle of virtuosity that will push IoT-enabled technologies into areas that weren’t even thought of just a couple of years ago – hint, look at what’s going on in hotel technology.
The Year Ahead
There is no doubt that IoT is going to be huuuge!
The only question is what it will mean for how you live and work. If we look at these trends it could be a world where voice reigns supreme, secured by blockchain, melding the physical with the digital, and powered by AI-enabled SaaS.
No matter what happens, it will be exciting to see how these trends play out over the year.