IoT Devices to Reach 38 Billion by 2020, Bringing Challenges and Opportunities

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Internet of Things

The number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is expected to reach 38.5 billion by 2020, up from 13.4 billion in 2015, according to latest data from Juniper Research.

While the consumer segment (smart home, connected vehicles and digital healthcare) accounts for a large portion of the marketplace, it’s the industrial sector (public services, retail, connected buildings and agriculture) that holds the greatest promise for ROI due to scale and enterprise efficiencies.

Juniper’s The Internet of Things: Consumer, Industrial & Public Services 2015-2020 report finds that connecting to smart devices remains a challenge for most enterprises. “We’re still at an early stage for IoT,” said study author Steffen Sorrell, in a press release. “Knowing what information to gather, and how to integrate that into back-office systems remains a huge challenge.

As the market grows, alliances are forming to handle interoperability hurdles and conflicting standards for the complex new ecosystem. A group of companies have formed an organization called AllSeen to address the interoperability problem, and already 170 members have signed on including Electrolux, LG, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony and Philips.

For marketers, the inherent opportunities of the IoT are unprecedented. “We are entering a third wave of digital transformation,” said Olof Schybergson, founder and CEO of Fjord, design and innovation group at Accenture Interactive, in CMO.com. “The first wave involved the introduction of the internet, the second wave brought us mobility and the third wave involves transformative digital services.”

Meanwhile, the walls between consumers and business get thinner and thinner. “Brands now have unprecedented access to a customer’s or prospect’s identity,” said Suresh Vittal, VP marketing strategy for Adobe Marketing Cloud. “It’s possible to have a deeper understanding of their needs.”

Uber, Airbnb, OpenTable and Square are a few companies that benefit from the information a deep dive into analytics yields. “Digital device and transactional data is much more signal rich,” Vitall said. “It has the ability to dramatically improve the IQ of an organization.”

IBM’s just launched IBM developerWorks Recipes, an IoT community for developers. “With developerWorks Recipes, IBM provides easy access to new analytics and operational insight capabilities that tap into the vast data from many connected devices, home appliances or cars,” said Christopher O’Connor, General Manager, Offerings, Internet of Things, IBM.

As Daniel Quant, Vice President of Product Management, MultiTech Systems, explains, “IBM is helping to enable us and our customers to connect devices quickly and with security features to the IBM Cloud—with the ultimate goal of transforming our business processes and efficiencies.”

Similarly, Microsoft just formed a partnership with Jasper to handle provisioning and monitoring of cellular connectivity, key to remote jobs without Wi-Fi or wired connectivity. The companies will integrate Jasper’s Control Center into Microsoft’s evolving Azure Internet of Things suite.

Jasper brings real-world experience working with Starbucks, ABB, and SAP and Salesforce have integrated the service with HANA and Salesforce CRM, respectively.

And Congress is taking a hard look at potential privacy issues for consumers who install Nest thermostats or other digital devices, or as Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) said at a House judiciary committee hearing on the IoT, “The time of the ‘Dick Tracy’ watch is here.” Congress, he added, “needs to set the expectation of privacy for individuals that have shared their information with different entities.”

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