Looking Ahead: Top 5 IoT Predictions for 2019

Romil Bahl, President, CEO
Jan 10, 2019 9:30:00 AM

2018 was a year of rapid growth as IoT continues to revolutionize businesses in virtually every industry. IoT solutions are enabling new efficiencies, creating new revenue opportunities, and producing measurably improved outcomes. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, in the year ahead IoT will continue at a pace that is expected to achieve a total economic impact of as much as $11.1 trillion a year by 2025.

We will see further use of artificial intelligence, new sensor technologies, chip innovation, and some incremental progress toward practical 5G IoT applications. IoT will also drive new business and consumer habits, social implications, and require new standards in data governance. Here are five predictions on how the IoT will develop in 2019:

1. Data and Analytics Become Business Assets

The heart of deriving value from an IoT implementation is not just data – it is data analytics. IoT “listening posts,” such as devices and sensors, transmit high volumes of streaming data, but organizations need to make sense of it and take meaningful downstream actions. This requires driving the analytics process efficiently and at scale. In 2019, businesses will gain a stronger understanding of the data that can be collected and analyzed, and how that data can be used to materially impact their organization. IoT analytics are already delivering tangible business results for companies like Royal Dutch Shell, which received a $1 million ROI using IoT data generated by its oil field asset monitoring and maintenance deployment in West Africa.

In 2019, we will also see a growing number of organizations selling, or planning to sell data collected by their IoT implementations. Gartner uses the term, “infonomics” to describe the buying and selling of IoT data, and believes it will measurably contribute to the bottom line by 2023. One example is DataBroker DAO, which is a marketplace for buying and selling IoT sensor data across industries such as transportation, agriculture, and academia.

2. Heightened IoT Security

In 2019, IoT security demands will come to the forefront. Gartner reports that security is the most significant area of technical concern for organizations deploying IoT systems. Additional survey data suggests that only 44 percent IT professionals have a known security policy for IoT, and just as surprisingly, 30 percent are not confident of which devices are even on their networks.

This coming year, IT leaders will place greater emphasis on architecting IoT solutions with security controls from the design stage, rather than mitigating issues on a reactive basis. In many cases, this will involve selecting the right system components and improving the security of data between disparate hardware, software, and network technologies. These decisions must be made by highly experienced internal leaders, or alongside trusted IoT partners.

Building a secure IoT solution requires safeguarding data from the sensor to the data center. When architecting IoT solutions for 2019 and beyond, technology leaders must to consider how they will secure data at both the device and network levels to effectively safeguard confidential information. This must be coupled with data encryption, user registration, and authentication to restrict communications with unapproved hosts.

3. Reinventing Industrial Business Operations and Facilities

The Industrial IoT, now commonly labeled “IIoT,” will drive the next significant growth phase of the industrial revolution by helping manufacturers and industrial plants improve supply chain management, production efficiency, machinery maintenance, and inventory management. In a July 2018 article, Forbes contributor Daniel Newman wrote that the number of connected devices in the manufacturing industry are expected to double from 2017 to 2020. This growth is backed by significant financial commitments. According to Statista, spending on IoT platforms, systems, and services in the manufacturing, transportation & logistics and utilities industries is projected to reach $40B per industry by 2020.

In 2019, many IIoT advancements will focus around adapting legacy machines and protocols to communicate with other systems. For example, in manufacturing, devices will collect data and report it to shop-floor automation systems enabling increased efficiency and proactive maintenance. In other cases, manufacturers and plant designers will architect and implement new IIoT-first systems that better collect and utilize data for increased productivity. A WIRED Magazine article predicts that “IIoT technologies (will) help to change the way that products are made and delivered, making factories more efficient, ensuring better safety for human operators, and, in some cases, saving millions of dollars.”

4. Transitioning to eSIM

Remote SIM provisioning will become a reality in 2019, with eSIM technology opening the doors to enhanced connectivity and security. Analyst firm IHS Markit forecasts that the eSIM market will increase nearly nine-fold from its modest beginnings of 108.9 million shipments in 2016 to 986 million shipments predicted in 2021. eSIM has already gained significant traction in connected cars and industrial IoT, as well as other consumer applications.

The primary use cases for eSIM in B2B deployments include the “insurance use case” for future-proofing long-lived devices and managing network service sunsets over time; auto provisioning to adopt a global OEM view and a single SKU to service multiple regions through a local profile; and active switching which addresses roaming on multiple networks and real-time SIM management. eSIM will replace physical SIM swaps with seamless, remote MNO provisioning, enabling customers to avoid costly truck-rolls for installed devices and streamline supply chain and logistics management.

While there are still technical challenges on the path to commercialization, eSIM offers the promise of simplified IoT deployments despite evolving network technologies or complex logistical deployments. The industry will continue to discuss and discover next steps for eSIM in the new year with pilot programs and conferences, such as MNVOs World Congress (May 2019) where an entire track will be devoted to eSIM challenges and opportunities.

5. Partners to Lead the IoT Ecosystem

In 2019, “partnerships” will become a synonym for “IoT ecosystem” because many organizations simply cannot address the complexity of planning, deploying, and managing IoT on their own. Delayed time-to-market, missed revenue opportunities, competitive disadvantages, technology incompatibility, and issues surrounding customer loyalty are all common occurrences.

Through partnerships, businesses will derive maximum return on their IoT investments by leveraging relationships and expertise across the IoT ecosystem to bring solutions to market faster. Trusted IoT ecosystem partners will reduce friction by rapidly navigating relationships across technologies such as connectivity, devices and hardware, modules, data and application enablement to help businesses design, build, deploy, and manage IoT solutions at an accelerated pace.

2019: The Year of Opportunity

According to Gartner, by the end of 2019 14.2 billion connected devices will be in use, growing to 25 billion by 2021. Advancements in the coming year will create new opportunities for business and technology executives to lead their organizations to significant innovation and success. We look forward to the year ahead and seeing how businesses will capitalize on this unique opportunity for digital business innovation.