The Internet of Things is in its golden age. What can we expect in 2020?
The Internet of Things can now be considered a mature technology with a multitude of options both in terms of connectivity , hardware and use cases already available on the market. 2019 was an exceptional year for the IoT , which experienced higher than expected growth in terms of connected devices. In fact, according to IoT Analytics, active IoT devices reached 9.5 billion in 2019 much more than the 8.3 billion previously estimated.
That the IoT is a leading sector is also attested by other very positive data, such as its penetration within companies. Vodafone highlghts that today more than one-third of companies use IoT solutions to optimize processes, reduce operating costs, improve data collection, create new revenue streams or increase revenue from existing ones. It’s also interesting to notice that very often these companies prefer to buy off the shelf solutions rather than developing their own ones in-house.
McKinsey&Company predicts that, by 2025, the overall economic impact of the IoT could reach $11.1 trillion, surpassing sectors such as "Mobile Internet", "Automation of knowledge work" and "Cloud technology".
There is no doubt, therefore, that 2020 has opened up under the best possible auspices and that there will be plenty of opportunities for growth for all players in the sector.
The TOP 10 IoT trends
We have gathered the top 10 trends identified by experts and observing the major venture capital operations that have involved the IoT sector during the last year. Here is what we discovered:
From a strictly technological point of view we have identified 4 main trends:
Security. Security remains a major concern for those developing and using IoT solutions today. This is comprehensible given the more than 100 million attacks in the first half of 2019 alone. A cybersecurity startup, Armis, is also one of the first billionaire exits in 2020. It is evident, hence, that this will be an area in which investment and the research of the necessary countermeasures will be a growing trend this year and in the years to come. Many experts also observe how the use of blockchain could be a key to achieve higher security in the IoT.
SaaS. Software as a Service is gradually becoming the norm in the IoT world. Local and customized solutions leave room for Cloud solutions. The benefits are significant for both end customers and service providers. The former profit from a considerable cost reduction; the latter have the opportunity to develop increasingly sophisticated solutions and to sell them, directly or on marketplaces, on a larger scale. The recent release of our Professional Public Servers also follows this trend. Our SaaS LoRaWAN Network Server solution in fact was created to support IoT companies in their growth without unnecessary setup costs.
The reduction in cost and, on the other hand, the increased power of the devices used in the IoT make it possible to use the increased computing power of the devices to process data collected on the edge (on the device itself, before sending over the data) and allow huge bandwidth savings. In addition, in many cases, it ensures a greater compliance with privacy regulations.
Increased adoption of IoT solutions results in increased data collection and transmission of all types of data. Managing and analysing this data represents the real added value that IoT can bring. Data analysis, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will therefore play an increasingly important and decisive role. Our direct experience also tells us that knowing how to analyse and understand data is also a crucial element for an efficient management of a network, especially if it is a large deployment. For this reason, we are developing solutions, shortly available, able to support our customers with these activities.
Which sectors will see an IoT explosion in 2020, according to experts?
Cities are the core centres of our society, where about 60% of the world's population lives. In the urban environment, the services that people use can be significantly improved thanks to the IoT solutions already available on the market. Pioneer cities in this area are showing how much value the Internet of Things is generating and many other cities are therefore following their example so that smartcity will certainly become mainstream in 2020.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The manufacturing industry has now realized that Predictive Maintenance, Energy and Resources management solutions are increasing productivity, enabling greater optimization of resources and processes, reducing operating costs and improving operator safety. The percentage of Proofs of Concept (POCs) resulting in a commercial solution has more than doubled in the last 2 years and the path of digital transformation, involving also traditional industry sectors, is now well established.
The voice-recognition algorithms are now sufficiently accurate and performing. So, the devices equipped with voice user interface are spreading rapidly thanks to the affordable prices, due to the strong competition among the big players operating in this market. Their pervasive diffusion represents an important driver in the adoption of home automation and smart home solutions as these devices can become the access hub for dozens of services suitable for any home environment. Will 2020 be the year of smart homes? Maybe you should ask your voice assistant...
Medical research is one of the sectors in which most investment is made, and innovations are not just about new drugs or biomedical implants. Chronic disease monitoring using smart devices, post-surgery monitoring, or early warning systems for patients at risk, smart tricorders and wearable devices, medical and diagnostic smart tools for clinicians, and devices to make hospital rooms "smart". According to Frost & Sullivan, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is expected to grow up to $72.02 billion by 2021.
To the previous 8 trends, we add 2 more (we said there were 10, didn't we?).
These are two trends common to the technologies and sectors highlighted above.
2019 was the year in which the global population has become more aware of climate change and these issues have entered the agendas of governments and corporations also driven by greater public attention and pressure on these issues. The IoT can play a vital role in tackling these global challenges and preserving the planet. In fact, when designing IoT solutions, purely economic and higher productivity objectives are combined with environmental protection, waste reduction and better use of resources. This category also includes solutions for monitoring and protecting endangered animal species and their habitats, as well as disaster solutions (floods, fires, avalanches) prevention and management.
Global Connectivity. Regardless of the transmission technology used to collect data from sensors and then process them, solutions to support processes of international or global reach such as asset tracking and management in food, manufacturing or medical applications require immediate and always-on connectivity to ensure consistency and process security. For companies that work globally or aspire to do so, having global connectivity will be a must. Something that network providers will have to deal with and resolve during the year that has just begun. We are in the process of doing that.
The new year has just begun with excellent forecasts and exciting and complex challenges. We are very proud to be able to contribute, with our solutions and at your side, to the transformations that our society is going to face in the coming months.