The Internet of Things (IoT) wasted no time spreading across the world and connecting millions of individuals. In just a few short years, billions of sensors redefined how businesses operated and how people interacted with one another, and that was only the start; one IHS forecast predicts the IoT will grow to reach a staggering 75 billion devices by 2025.
What changes will the IoT bring even sooner, in 2018? Is the phenomenon of an interconnected world a mere fad, or will the trends of the IoT continue to define us for decades to come? These five trends highlight the stunning innovations that may lurk just around the corner, and could be a taste of the world yet to come.
More IoT devices than ever
While IHS and others are predicting massive upticks in the amount of digitally-connected devices over the next decade, it’s likely we won’t need to wait very long. BI Intelligence’s report on the IoT notes that nearly $6 trillion will be spent on IoT solutions in just the next five years, for instance, meaning the rapid proliferation of IoT gadgets has already begun.
As more consumers around the globe purchase smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets which hook them into the web, the expanse of the IoT will only grow ever-greater. Low-power, short-ranged networked devices will be increasingly pushed by companies hoping to cash in on the boom in tech, and millions of more sensors embedded in our world in just a year’s time.
The forthcoming retail shakeup
One of the largest impacts the IoT could have in 2018 is the waves of change it’s bringing to retail. Consumers and business-owners alike have profited greatly off of the increase in sensors and data driven by the IoT, as it allows businesses to better market their products to prospective customers.
Increasingly, tech-savvy companies eager to use new data are investing in sensors-based analytics, which allows them to, among other things, track which areas of their stores are the most trafficked by customers. CBInsight’s report on the IoT’s impact on retail outlines the innovative ways companies are using the IoT to better track their inventory, manage losses from theft, and reach out to customers in new and exciting ways.
Forget Amazon’s coming drone-delivery systems or increased amounts of online shoppers; the boom in embedded-sensor driven retail shopping will by itself single handedly change how customers find and buy their favorite products.
As more and more patients turn to big data driven healthcare solutions, the IoT also stands to reshape how people access and pay for their healthcare services. An ongoing boom in wearable tech has largely been fueled by its applications to people’s healthcare, such as wearable gadgets’ abilities to monitor your heartrate or stress levels.
As hospitals and clinics face larger amounts of patients who need care, they can turn to networked gadgets which can remind patients when to take their prescriptions, when to exercise, and alerts patients when their blood pressure levels are too high.
New network security challenges
Not all of the forthcoming trends in the IoT are positive; new network security challenges will push IT experts to their limits in 2018 as hackers and other malevolent actors seek to harness the IoT for their own nefarious purposes. One cyberattack in October of 2016 already crippled large swaths of the internet after hackers effectively exploited the IoT to power their attack.
As industrial IoT continues to grow at an explosive rate, vulnerabilities in global internet-infrastructure systems will only grow worse. As more devices become connected to one another, security experts and major businesses will need to move quickly to patch holes in their defenses as malware jumps from one networked device to another.
Greater access to capital
These staggering leaps forward in tech aren’t occurring in vacuum; investors are taking notice of the IoT more so now than ever before, and are ponying up the funds needed for the IoT’s expansion. In 2018, IoT-based ventures will have greater access to startup capital and be taken more seriously in the market.
About 19% of business respondents to one Forrester survey reported using the IoT already, but a staggering 28% also reported that they planned to adopt IoT usage in their business operations in the near future. The utilities, transportation, manufacturing and mining industries are all perched to invest and benefit heavily in the IoT in coming years.
It’s never easy to accurately predict the future, and the true capabilities of the Internet of Things may not yet be realized. As consumers and corporations alike embrace the IoT’s world-changing impact on global commerce and lifestyle, however, it’s hard to imagine the IoT doing anything but growing to new and greater heights in 2018.