Internet of Things Predictions for 2017
Internet of Things Predictions for 2017

Did you start your new year by making a resolution? Did you make any predictions about what 2017 will bring? It looks like a writer for Forbes magazine culled through a Forrester report (“Predictions 2017: Security and Skills Will Temper Growth of IoT”) and summarized it all in their predictions for IoT from Forrester.

As I plan for what we’ll try to cover in the IoT hub for developerWorks in 2017, I tried the same tactic. I culled through several lists of analyst predictions, including the Forrester report and the very interesting Business Insider report, “Internet of Things 2017 Report,” by Peter Newman.

In the Key Points section at the start of this Business Insider report, Newman suggests that any IoT implementation – big or small – should include 5 components, which I think make a great organizational scheme and framework for thinking about IoT and the annual predictions. Here are my key takeaways and insights for the upcoming year!

1. Hardware (devices)

From single-board computers (like Raspberry Pi or Beagle Bone, which include ARM cores) to semiconductors and sensors, IoT starts with the hardware, the devices, the things that get connected. While smart cities (smart lighting, smart meters, and smart trash pickup, to name a few) and connected manufacturing will be relying on evolutions in IoT devices, every day consumers will chase after smart home technology like smart devices (Nest thermostats), appliances with virtual assistances (Amazon Echo with Alexa), or smart camera systems (Withings Home). IoT developer kits are all the rave, to help developers get started in the IoT space (techworld and ZDNet compiled top lists).

2017 will bring an evolution in gateways as edge architectures (or fog architectures) become a required part of IoT implementations. IoT solutions will be built to work across the distributed architecture, out to devices, gateways, and cloud services. Because IoT devices generate data in such large quantities – big, big data – edge devices will have to get smarter in order to keep up. By combining a server and a gateway in these edge devices, IoT implementations can include more analytics, storage, and networking capabilities at the edge of the network instead of only in the cloud. (Watson IoT Platform recently added an Edge Analytics SDK. Try out this recipe, Getting Started with Edge Analytics.)

2. Networks (connectivity)

IoT solutions can never just be Wi-Fi or cellular solutions. New forms of wireless connections will continue to evolve and be more broadly available to IoT developers. Without a convergence on a standard protocol, hardware and software platforms will have to untangle too many connectivity options. Consider just this small list of cellular network protocols: LPWAN, mesh networks, NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT), and LTE-M, just to name a few. Other vendors, like cable or security alarm companies, will join in the games to create whole-home connectivity for smart home devices.

3. Remotes (user interfaces to IoT apps)

While there were no 2017 predictions in this component of IoT implementations, it is important to remember that users of IoT solutions demand a simple, easy-to-use, and easy-to-understand user interface. Otherwise, the IoT solution will not be successful; end of story.

4. Platforms (messaging, analytics, and data storage for IoT solutions)

An IoT Platform brings together messaging, analytics, and data storage for IoT solutions. While there are plenty of players in this space, 2017 predictions suggest many will fall out of contention or be “swallowed up” by their competition. IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon top most lists, but many others are still making a play. (IBM was named a leader in IoT software platforms in Q4 2016 Forrester Wave report.) The analytics component of an IoT Platform will be increasingly critical to mine all that data that is coming in from the plethora of IoT devices. You can learn more about the Watson IoT Platform by exploring these developer resources (courses, docs, and samples).

5. Security protocols

Security for IoT

In October 2016, IoT devices were used in DDOS attacks. One of the predictions for 2017 is one or more large-scale security breaches involving IoT solutions, since they are expanding to include transportation, manufacturing, and government industries. Many standards and regulatory bodies are releasing security frameworks, and IoT platforms are shoring up their security features. (IBM Watson IoT Platform adheres to ISO 27001 security standards, and they are running an open beta on their latest security features.) With more and more devices coming into the variety of networks, hackers will continue to try to exploit IoT systems of all makes and sizes. I am confident that we will publish an article or two around IoT and security this year, just like last year.

Blockchain technology will converge with IoT technology, providing a way to secure distributed transactions as a part of many enterprise-wide IoT solutions. (You can read more about how to apply Blockchain technology to your cognitive IoT apps in this developerWorks tutorial.)

What’s in store for IoT in 2017?

So, how would I summarize what’s coming for IoT in 2017? With all the devices, networks, and platforms having exploded on to the market, it’s never been a better time to dive in and learn more about this complex and evolving technology area. Organizations need to leverage all they can from this Internet of Things explosion. It all starts with developers who figure out how to discover insights from and act on all this data coming from IoT devices around the globe!

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