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Bigger Data, Smarter Cities, and More Mobile: IoT Trends to Watch for in 2018

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) is a futuristic world in which we go beyond using the objects around us to interacting with them in ways that make us more comfortable and productive. To some degree, that world is already here as people monitor their activity through Fitbits, adjust the temperature in their home from afar, and get items added to their grocery list by their refrigerator. Yes, the IoT has arrived, but only just. In 2018 the IoT is expected to move ever closer to the 20.8 billion connected devices experts predict for 2020. Here are some trends to watch for this year.

More Mobile

The “things” of the Internet of Things need a way to connect with the people who use them, and that way is mobile devices. For example, shoppers will be able to receive promotional messages relevant to the products they pass by in stores. Drivers looking for a place to park in a city will be able to get alerts to open spaces. Manufacturing managers will be able to operate facility machinery remotely.

Personalized Marketing

Information within the IoT flows both ways. Not only will objects and companies be able to send information to people, but people will also be sending information to them about their needs and preferences. Forrester predicts that the IoT will become the “backbone of customer value” because of the way it will drive a personalized experience. This phenomenon will extend beyond retail to other industries that cater to individuals, such as healthcare.

Smarter Cities

In a recent Inc. article, James Paine states, “Through smart cities, everything from street lights to parking meters can be connected to the internet.” IoT elements can be used to save energy and money, and solve safety problems. For example, explains Paine, “Many canal boats…are prone to sinking, due to Amsterdam’s rainy climate. Experts have installed nodes in boats, using bowls to monitor when a boat has started to take on water…. Once an issue becomes apparent, the node sends an SMS message to a maintenance company.”

Bigger Data

Companies and other entities will somehow need to process the data they receive from all these new devices, and the era of Big Data will get even bigger as a result. Dmitry Budko, writing for DZone, states, “We will have to work with Big Data a lot and thus we will have to think of resources that would enable us to process and analyze it correctly. Here, artificial intelligence and machine learning will come in handy….” Daniel Newman, writing for Forbes, notes, “Edge networking will be less of a trend and more of a necessity, as companies seek to cut costs and reduce network usage.” Edge computing “allows data produced by internet of things (IoT) devices to be processed closer to where it is created instead of sending it across long routes to data centers or clouds,” explains Brandon Butler for Network World.

Focus on Security

Newman points out that, due to a lack of device standards, the IoT is likely to become more fragmented, leading to system compromise and greater security concerns. He writes, “Securing all these connected devices in an environment with minimal regulation will be difficult. Finding a solution to keep data safe will be a main goal in [2018].” Budko comments, “With the Internet of Things spreading throughout our homes, cars, and even bodies, new vulnerabilities seem to emerge almost daily.”

As with many new technological developments, the IoT has great potential, but also many obstacles to overcome. This year should bring fascinating developments along with many improvements to how we live and work. 

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