5 big Internet of Things trends we see in 2015 and beyond

Posted: April 2015
Jerome Dilley, Consultant, shares his predictions for the future of the Internet of Things.

It’s official: we’ve entered the Internet of Things (IoT) paradigm. It’s been difficult, if not impossible, to avoid the hype surrounding the seemingly ubiquitous IoT: the upcoming revolution that’s about to engulf us promises to change the way we interact with the world, and perhaps more pertinently, change how it interacts with us.
5 big Internet of Things trends we see in 2015 and beyond

Growth in the IoT space is predicted to be fairly meteoric over the coming years: some estimate that the 4.9 billion connected devices at the end of 2015 will rise to 26 billion devices within 5 years [Gartner 2015]. Of those 26 billion, 13 billion are predicted to be consumer (as opposed to industrial or automotive) devices. Of course, such astronomic growth is going to mean some fairly transformative shifts in the space as a whole. To celebrate this year’s IoT day, here are the 5 big trends we see coming up in 2015 and beyond:

 

It’s not about the technology

We’re going to move on from technology for technology’s sake. Of course, ground breaking products may well be based around exciting and innovative tech. However, those products that really appeal to consumers often come about from simple, well implemented ideas, with ‘good enough’ technology. Take Nest’s thermostat, for example: instead of cramming it full of widgets, Nest engineers came up beautifully packaged, minimalist design with an intuitive interface. In the land of complexity, simplicity is the key.

Standardisation and interoperability will evolve

The trend towards digitisation and automation inevitably means that consumers will interact with many more devices on a daily basis. Of paramount importance is that manufacturers abandon the closed-ecosystem, silo mentality. Take the smart-home arena, for example: Let’s say I want my heating system to talk to my lighting circuit, which also should talk to my media system, which should be able to determine when I’ve walked through the front door in the evening. Right now? I have 3 different apps on my phone to operate all of them independently: generally speaking, these closed ecosystems are not only an inconvenience, they’re bad for consumers. There will always be some people willing to pay a premium for a restricted and tightly controlled ecosystem (think Apple’s iOS, Sonos) that ‘just works’. But, as we move forward with adoption of the technology by the mainstream, consumers will increasingly demand interoperability between their devices.

Privacy and security

With huge amounts of data flowing between connected devices, the potential for serious privacy and security breaches becomes very real. The ability to open your front door with a smartphone might be hugely convenient, but is also potentially risky. Not only this, but our homes, smart-meters and cars will be gathering huge volumes of data on our whereabouts, habits, and  preferences – information we should all be careful to protect. The big players are catching on to this, and quickly: Intel and ARM, for example, are unveiling substantial IoT security platforms, whilst other players like Google and Apple have been quick to emphasise their security credentials. No security protocols are infallible, however, so expect some pitfalls along the way.

Services, rather than hardware, will become the focus

A number of the big players are leaving or avoiding the IoT hardware business altogether – think Nike’s fuelband, Underarmour’s play in the app fitness space or Apple’s Homekit. Why? In many cases, margins on hardware are reducing, with the entry of Far-Eastern manufactured devices driving down prices. Longer term, reliable revenue streams can be realised by providing a platform with services, apps and subscriptions to your customers. Furthermore, the consumer-brand relationship created through these services is likely to be invaluable from a business perspective. Alternatively, a more sobering thought may be the realisation that the wearable sensor on your wrist isn’t really the product – you are. As more information about us is generated and collected, we become an increasingly productisable resource.

Big data will become actionable data

We hear an awful lot about big data. What does it mean for the IoT space? The new breed of sensors being created by the IoT revolution means reams of data being produced: this data is of vanishingly little use unless it leads to meaningful insight and actionable information. Consider the wearables and fitness space: knowing, say, heart rate variability to the nearest millisecond isn’t really of interest to the average fitness-tracker user. If it’s put into context, as Jaybird have done, and instead used to tell you whether you’re in peak condition to really push yourself at the gym that day, that’s useful information. Increasingly, the intelligence to glean these insights is going to be integrated into the devices themselves.

As we enter a new paradigm for consumers, business, and technology, the IoT promises to transform our lives in a multitude of ways. Let’s make sure this potential is realised.

Gartner: “The Impact of the Internet of Things on Data Centers”, Feb 2014, http://www.gartner.com/doc/2672920

 


[i] It’s not actually official, I’m afraid. 

Growth in the IoT space is predicted to be fairly meteoric over the coming years: some estimate that the 4.9 billion connected devices at the end of 2015 will rise to 26 billion devices within 5 years [Gartner 2015]. Of those 26 billion, 13 billion are predicted to be consumer (as opposed to industrial or automotive) devices. Of course, such astronomic growth is going to mean some fairly transformative shifts in the space as a whole. To celebrate this year’s IoT day, here are the 5 big trends we see coming up in 2015 and beyond:

 

It’s not about the technology

We’re going to move on from technology for technology’s sake. Of course, ground breaking products may well be based around exciting and innovative tech. However, those products that really appeal to consumers often come about from simple, well implemented ideas, with ‘good enough’ technology. Take Nest’s thermostat, for example: instead of cramming it full of widgets, Nest engineers came up beautifully packaged, minimalist design with an intuitive interface. In the land of complexity, simplicity is the key.

Standardisation and interoperability will evolve

The trend towards digitisation and automation inevitably means that consumers will interact with many more devices on a daily basis. Of paramount importance is that manufacturers abandon the closed-ecosystem, silo mentality. Take the smart-home arena, for example: Let’s say I want my heating system to talk to my lighting circuit, which also should talk to my media system, which should be able to determine when I’ve walked through the front door in the evening. Right now? I have 3 different apps on my phone to operate all of them independently: generally speaking, these closed ecosystems are not only an inconvenience, they’re bad for consumers. There will always be some people willing to pay a premium for a restricted and tightly controlled ecosystem (think Apple’s iOS, Sonos) that ‘just works’. But, as we move forward with adoption of the technology by the mainstream, consumers will increasingly demand interoperability between their devices.

Privacy and security

With huge amounts of data flowing between connected devices, the potential for serious privacy and security breaches becomes very real. The ability to open your front door with a smartphone might be hugely convenient, but is also potentially risky. Not only this, but our homes, smart-meters and cars will be gathering huge volumes of data on our whereabouts, habits, and  preferences – information we should all be careful to protect. The big players are catching on to this, and quickly: Intel and ARM, for example, are unveiling substantial IoT security platforms, whilst other players like Google and Apple have been quick to emphasise their security credentials. No security protocols are infallible, however, so expect some pitfalls along the way.

Services, rather than hardware, will become the focus

A number of the big players are leaving or avoiding the IoT hardware business altogether – think Nike’s fuelband, Underarmour’s play in the app fitness space or Apple’s Homekit. Why? In many cases, margins on hardware are reducing, with the entry of Far-Eastern manufactured devices driving down prices. Longer term, reliable revenue streams can be realised by providing a platform with services, apps and subscriptions to your customers. Furthermore, the consumer-brand relationship created through these services is likely to be invaluable from a business perspective. Alternatively, a more sobering thought may be the realisation that the wearable sensor on your wrist isn’t really the product – you are. As more information about us is generated and collected, we become an increasingly productisable resource.

Big data will become actionable data

We hear an awful lot about big data. What does it mean for the IoT space? The new breed of sensors being created by the IoT revolution means reams of data being produced: this data is of vanishingly little use unless it leads to meaningful insight and actionable information. Consider the wearables and fitness space: knowing, say, heart rate variability to the nearest millisecond isn’t really of interest to the average fitness-tracker user. If it’s put into context, as Jaybird have done, and instead used to tell you whether you’re in peak condition to really push yourself at the gym that day, that’s useful information. Increasingly, the intelligence to glean these insights is going to be integrated into the devices themselves.

As we enter a new paradigm for consumers, business, and technology, the IoT promises to transform our lives in a multitude of ways. Let’s make sure this potential is realised.

Gartner: “The Impact of the Internet of Things on Data Centers”, Feb 2014, http://www.gartner.com/doc/2672920

 


[i] It’s not actually official, I’m afraid.