The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken the world by storm, with a rapid increase of connected devices. In 2020, the world saw “more IoT connections (e.g., connected cars, smart home devices, connected industrial equipment) than there [were] non-IoT connections (smartphones, laptops, and computers).” Recent projections suggest that the total number of IoT devices worldwide will exceed 30 billion by 2025, which equates to approximately four IoT devices per person.
With so much growth in the IoT market, IT leaders are quickly taking note of some of the key trends facing IoT in the coming months. Here are five trends technology leaders should watch in 2021.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding 5G this past year and for good reason. 5G promises faster speeds, greater data capacity, and a more reliable connection than ever before. 5G is not the only option, however. According to Michele Pelino, senior analyst, Forrester, “ There will be a variety of options, and organizations will really have to think about what use cases they will pursue and what connectivity option makes the most sense.”
Healthcare systems are increasingly using IoT to offer better care for patients and a more seamless experience for providers. From patient self-service (e.g., appointment setting, automated home help for the elderly or disabled) to mobile access of clinical health information and telemedicine care delivery for providers, IoT is transforming the healthcare experience from the inside out. IoT minimizes unnecessary contact in situations where the risk of exposure is high. A great example is the use of IoT to protect caregivers and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the “global internet of medical things (IoMT) market is expected to swell to a $158 billion valuation in 2022, up from $41 billion in 2017.”
We saw a dramatic shift in the way businesses operate in 2020, and that new work model is expected to continue throughout 2021 and possibly even longer. As a result, many employees are relying heavily on IoT to remain connected with company data and increase productivity overall. Both remote and hybrid work models require integrated digital collaboration solutions to ensure success. “In a white-collar work environment, the productivity question will always be up for debate, but we have seen that [working remotely] can be efficient if you have the right IT infrastructure and collaboration tools,” commented Rahul Agarwal, MD & CEO, Lenovo India. “Having said that, in-person interactions bring in a different flavor altogether which technology can never fully replace … Hence, I think the future of work will be hybrid with a mix of remote working and working from the office.”
The increased connectivity, speed, and convenience of IoT devices can open the door to increased security risks that IT professionals must consider in their environment. Innovative cybersecurity-focused solution providers such as Cylera are racing to address the threat landscape posed by exponential IoT growth. However, a widespread enterprise adaption rate curve of such technologies is sure to lag behind the advancement of threats. Thus, in the meantime, the best approach is to conduct a security assessment across your entire IoT ecosystem to identify vulnerabilities.
Edge computing has increasingly become more sophisticated and intelligent, making IoT even more accessible and cost-effective. Intelligent edge computing consists of seven characteristics:
With edge computing, information gathered on an IoT device can be processed directly on the device, thereby increasing the speed and accessibility of that information.
IoT is transforming the way we work and live. As an IT professional this is both a blessing and a challenge. From one perspective, IoT is opening the door to tremendous benefits in connectivity, capacity, and speed. From another perspective, however, it is increasing the risk to your company data and infrastructure by creating more endpoint risks that need to be identified and addressed.