IoT Predictions for 2019: Get Your Business Ready

The global IoT market is growing exponentially, spreading into new industries and creating new use cases. According to Bain & Company, by 2021 it may be as large as $520 billion, which is double the IoT market of 2017.
The industry of connected devices goes to a whole new level transforming all areas of our life and work. From smart homes to smart cities, from single processes to enterprise infrastructures, from fitness trackers to complex healthcare solutions – IoT is more widespread with every passing day.
Many experts make IoT predictions, and while their visions of the future of IoT may focus on different areas and industries, they all agree on one thing – IoT is going to get bigger. Let's try to identify the most significant trends in the evolution of the IoT industry to be prepared for the inevitable disruption.


#1 Edge computing reshaping data centers operation

Before IoT, most data flows between data centers and field devices were directed from the centers down. Indeed, computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices mostly requested data from central servers with very little traffic in the other direction.
IoT reversed this trend completely. Devices became data generators rather than consumers. Connected devices collected various metrics and sent them up for processing. The increased data flow to the data centers resulted in a much heavier load on communication channels, calling for broadening their bandwidth to process the increased traffic.

This problem can be resolved in a different way, and this was edge computing's glory hour. Instead of bringing the data to the processing centers, edge computing allowed processing capacities to be closer to the data sources. With edge computing, data gathered by the connected devices is sorted in the cloud at the edge of the network, and only the relevant data is forwarded to the central units.
According to Martin Olsen, Vice President for Global Edge and Integrated Solutions at Vertiv, only 4% of data gathered by the connected devices is relevant and should be sent to the data center. Edge computing allowed for  identification of that 4% from the rest of the data, thus raising the performance of the whole network.
Edge computing reduces the load on the communication network and the data centers. With the evolution of IoT, edge computing becomes increasingly significant. On one hand, cloud-based computing capacities are less expensive than communication channels and networking infrastructures, making it more cost-effective to concentrate data processing at the edge.
On the other hand, Internet-of-Things is more and more often applied in remote operations, like offshore mining, explorations, and environmental studies. In this case, communication may be either extremely hard to organize or worth its weight in gold. Processing as much data as possible right at the generation site and sending up only the most important parts can save a lot of time and money.
With the evolution of IoT, the development of edge computing will come into focus, and its integration with data centers will become one of the main areas of research.


#2 Bundled services getting increasingly popular

One of the problems of the current IoT market is the poor integrability of different connected devices. IoT devices by different vendors are mostly focused on their dedicated function and are poorly suited to joint operations. This undermines the “smart home”, “smart car” or “smart enterprise” concept where everything works together building complex scenarios.
Such limitations affect the IoT market in a way that makes it difficult for vendors to get and retain customers. Purchasing a connected device, they face the challenge of setting it up and maintaining its operation. A change of the Internet provider or other external factors may result in the interruption of the IoT device service. This may be a show-stopper for innovational connected devices that are offered as standalone items.
The answer to this problem is IoT bundling. The bundling concept is not new – most telecom companies have been offering Internet-TV-mobile bundles for years. Including a smart home or smart enterprise infrastructure in the bundle is the next logical step.
With bundling, the company provides the whole smart home infrastructure – hardware, mobile and web applications, and networking. The customer sets it up once and enjoys the combined benefits of multiple IoT devices joined in a single network.
In 2019, we may see a growing number of such bundled solutions by utility or telecom companies. In their building, the providers may involve white-labeled software and hardware forming a single integrated network.
An example of such bundled service is Verizon Hum, a connected car solution combining various functions – car diagnostics, roadside assistance, driving alerts, and location resolution – in a single app. Naturally, such a tool is much more effective and has much higher chances of user retention than a handful of separate apps and devices.


Image credit: Verizon Wireless

#3 Smart cities becoming reality

We are already used to the concept of smart homes watching and anticipating our every need. The idea of expanding this concept to the level of neighborhoods or even cities has been in the air for some time, but 2019 might be the year when we finally see it come to life.
Many cities already implement IoT systems, mostly for traffic monitoring and jam prevention. However, the era of complete smart cities, where connected devices control all life-sustaining services – utilities, traffic control, citizen safety, communications – is still to come. We will see car and bike sharing companies integrated into city infrastructures, and power meters and traffic lights connected to common systems providing data in real-time for both citizens and administration.


#4 Security getting tighter, hackers getting smarter

No list of Internet-of-Things predictions can be made without including security challenges and industry response to them. Unfortunately, as technology gets more advanced and sophisticated, cybercrime matches it step for step. For almost every innovation, the bad guys have one of their own.
If we focus specifically on the IoT industry, one of the major threats is the large variety of devices that are used. Each device is potentially a breach that puts the entire network at risk. Any system is only as secure as its weakest link, and in IoT where a smart home system consists of dozens of sensors, meters, thermostats, and smart appliances, each device can be broken into, compromising the whole network.
As a result, a lot of attention is paid to the security of endpoint devices, and this trend will continue in 2019. Many IoT device vendors are starting to include additional security mechanisms in their products – data loss prevention, user control, network status monitoring, and so on.


Another security concern that the IoT industry should take into account is the threat looming over smart cities. We mentioned their appearance as a positive trend, however, the security risks here are extremely high.
Smart city networks will include thousands of meters and sensors, each being a potential target. Should a smart city system, or even one of its networks, be compromised, the damage could be enormous. Imagine the mess a hacked traffic light system could make, or the collapse caused by bringing down the electric power network.
This is why developers of smart city systems must regard security as the top priority, implementing the most advanced protection mechanisms and being on constant alert for new threats.

#5 IoT healthcare market growing

While the IoT market growth is observed in almost all industries, healthcare deserves special attention. According to Allied Market Research, the global IoT healthcare market will reach as high as $136.8 billion by 2021. Indeed, the opportunities here are huge, as no other industry offers as many opportunities for wearable devices gathering, processing and forwarding patients' metrics.
The advantages of IoT for healthcare are abundant – first and foremost, it saves patients and doctors time and money. Second, it allows better and more convenient monitoring of chronic conditions. Third, IoT can help greatly in streamlining health record databases and protecting patients' data. Fourth, it provides patients with access to healthcare information.
According to research, by 2019, 87% of healthcare institutions will be using IoT. As general health awareness grows, there will be an increase in public demand for wearable health monitoring devices. People are seeking easier access to health information and care, and connected devices will play a significant role in fulfilling this demand.
At the same time, since the healthcare industry handles vast amounts of extremely sensitive data, it will also be one of the prime targets of cybercrime. Thus, in developing IoT healthcare solutions, security measures must always be of top priority.


Bonus – Demand for IoT developers rising

Five is a nice round number, but we will wrap up our analysis with one more prediction for IoT technology that naturally follows what we have been talking about so far. The overall growth of the industry of connected devices calls for an equal growth in the number of people who make them work.
There is an estimation that the job market for IoT will get as large as one million. On one hand, this is a huge window of opportunity for professional developers wishing to pursue careers in the IoT industry. On the other hand, this trend means the average cost of IoT development may rise with demand. At the same time, for enterprises needing to implement IoT solutions, it may get harder to choose a truly experienced provider.
Today, many companies outsource development to Eastern Europe, as it provides the best cost-to-quality ratio. We can safely say that contracting a company from Eastern Europe to build an IoT solution is one of the most recommended options, as the rates are not as high as the U.S., while development quality is excellent. It looks like quite a number of unique and innovational IoT solutions and products will be created there.
On a final note, the advance of IoT technology will affect everyone – individual users, large enterprises, small businesses, and professional developers. It's up to us to get ready for it and to embrace this new wonderful era of things serving humans, making our lives easier, giving us more free time to do the things we love, and bringing us comfort and security. Contact DA-14 IoT experts and start building your next-gen solution today.
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