Commentary

The Year That Was (and Was Not) For The Internet Of Things

As we prepare to say goodbye to another calendar year, much of the IoT-related conversation has revolved around where the Internet of Things is projected to go in the next year.  This time last year, we heard a lot of predictions of where the coming year would bring the IoT as it related to growth, security and adoption.  Some came true fully, some partially and some still need time to move from the planning stage to reality. So before moving into 2017, here are those that still need some more time before being fully realized:

  • Standards Would Emerge to Move the IoT Quickly Forward. The IoT saw incredible growth in 2016, many of us presumed that we’d see much more standardization than we actually did. Standardization in the IoT is important for a number of reasons including helping to take the guesswork out of areas like security, interoperability and are crucial for long term sustainability. The promise of the Internet of Things is that everything will be connected and the key word there is everything.  As such, no one wants to buy a product that only works with one or a small handful of other connected products. They want their connected products to be universal and to work with current products on the market, as well as with new products being introduced.  Standards will be necessary to make this happen and to move the IoT to the mainstream. 
  • More Clarity in the IoT Landscape. One of the biggest challenges plaguing the IoT is the complexity of the current landscape. All suppliers that offer IoT solutions today are combined in one singular, messy category.  We did see significant progress this year with specialties beginning to emerge and categories getting more clearly defined.  We see GE rising to the top in Industrial IoT and Amazon and Microsoft creating tool kits of IoT pieces that can be used to develop a custom solution. There is still work to be done to make all aspects of the IoT journey easier though. Hardware, security, analytics and a standardized architecture have yet to be fleshed out.
  • Successful Business Models Will Lead by Example. While there are a lot of successful examples of IoT products, business models have varied widely from company to company and across verticals. Today, we have yet to see one tried and true, repeatable use case (better service, recurring revenue, product differentiation) that companies can replicate and trust that their bet on the IoT will lead to success and an improved bottom line. The sense of risk is getting lower every day, but being able follow the successes of other companies who have paved the way lessens the risk that much more.

Even though these particular predictions didn’t see full realization in 2016, the market is moving in the right direction. One prediction we made for 2016 was that the IoT would move from the exploration phase to the execution phase, and I think that one was spot on.  Thousands of companies have brought new connected products to market in 2016. It was a year of great maturity and growth for the IoT, and it’s clear to me that 2017 will only build on this momentum, taking another big step forward in the mission to build a smarter, more connected future.

 

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