It has been many years, since we first named something as a “Thing” of the Internet.
IoT (Internet Of Things) are exactly what the words mean. A device (thing) that is connected to the internet.
As we observe, more and more devices are connected to the Internet everyday. It is estimated that 26 Billion devices will be connected by 2020, which are a lot more than humans…
When things got really interesting, is when voice control devices like Alexa, Google Assistant etc. came to the market. Through them we can control any device by only using our voice. It was a huge breakthrough for the sector, as products were now seen from a different perspective.
During the last few years, many startups and established companies are trying to innovate. From consumer products, to enterprise products and internet infrastructure hardware and software, which helps in the use of “things”
In this post I am going to discuss the uses of the IoT today and on the other hand the limitations and barriers we face for making something extraordinary and achieve mass adoption.
Consumer products vary from simple smart locks and smart lights, to smart watches and connected cars! We are in an early stage for consumer products, and mostly hobbyists are involved. According to the latest advancements, in my opinion, this will change dramatically over the next year.
Companies with different business models, are competing in the field. It is hard to guess which one got it right, since IoT is still far away from reaching its full potential.
Many companies are making a product (“thing”) first and after they are developing a platform around it. On the contrary, others, are creating a diverse platform, that will control all the future “things” that will be created.
Nothing is right or wrong. It is a race to innovation and it could not be any better with corporations like Apple, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Tesla and Intel being some of the examples of the established companies which are involved. Moreover, the startups, focused on IoT are countless, with some of them like Nest, SmartThings, FitBit and LUNA already being the leaders in their sectors.
“Things” for Enterprises
This is where things get a bit more interesting, with businesses taking advantage of “things” in different ways. A research from Forbes showed that 82% of the companies who adopted IoT define its role as integrating analytics, artificial intelligence and key digital initiatives. The most important number comes from those adopters. 51% of them declared that with IoT they either increased their revenue, or they even created a new revenue stream.
The majority of them is using IoT, initially to improve customer relationships and customer experience.
As you would expect, many large corporations and startups are also involved in the enterprise level of IoT.
From Smart Logistics (Cisco, Scania, DHL etc.) and Security (ARM , Bastille etc.) to whole Smart Factories and Cities where companies like IBM, Intel, Johnson and Johnson, Siemens and many others are involved and innovate.
One sector that IoT services are already essential, is healthcare. “Things” are being used for tracking inventory and helping elderly stay safe in the homes.
Internet Infrastructure “Things”
Moreover, many others, are trying to improve the internet infrastructure, in many ways, for many different reasons.
Once more, companies like Microsoft, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Intel etc. are also involved in making Databases, Connectivity Platforms, Software Platforms and Hardware. An evolution here may result in a huge breakthrough as great IoT products will be driven by great platforms and diverse databases.
There is already a notable growth in this part of IoT, as even a not so famous company, Jasper is now an 1 billion dollar company, which silently provides cloud software to help companies connect devices, manage data, and monetize IoT services.
So why we do not have mass adoption yet? What is this, that stops consumers?
Barriers and Obstacles
In my opinion, like in every other new technology, we need to make sure that the products will fulfill at least the 3 main expectations that a consumer has.
Let’s start from the most important factor. Security! Like everywhere else, we need to be and feel secure when we are using a device or a service.
Things are a lot more complicated than a malware in our laptops or a DDoS attack in our databases. If someone manages to take over your IoT device or IoT service, can result to catastrophic events.
That is why, it is difficult to trust a device right now. Even a smart thermostat which controls the temperature of the house, can be hacked.
Of course, nowadays, privacy as we knew it, is lost. Companies like Google and Facebook are taking advantage of our personal data for marketing. This is not annoying, as we are getting served with really useful and secure platforms and applications for free. Moreover, the data that we are giving away are mostly about our entertainment habits or shopping preferences.
To have someone listening and recording your every word and action in your house; now that is creepy.
I am pretty sure that as the time goes by, we will get used to it. Even though, we definitely need to have a company, that proves how efficiently they can store our data and make sure that such personal data are not being shared to whoever wants access.
Integration with other devices will also play a major role for the mass adoption of a product. After all, the voice controlled devices like Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri etc. will be the ones through where we will communicate with our devices.
It is evident, that without this integration, a “thing” may end up useless, or inconvenient.
Finally, I could say, that the service or the product that will face mass adoption, will be the one fulfilling all the above. It is normal and it happened with previous technologies, that to be successful they have to arrive to the point where they are making our lives easier and more comfortable in some way.
Even though, we are not quite there yet, I believe that we are going forward to a world surrounded by IoT, that make us more efficient and more comfortable.
International Business Development @ OTS SA