Predicting and discovering the future of IoT

Michael Huth, technical lead for Harnessing Economic Value theme at PETRAS IoT Research Hub, predicts how the internet of things landscape will evolve in 2018

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 21 May 2018
Predicting and discovering the future of IoT
This article first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of The Record.

What three ways will enterprises use the internet of things (IoT) in 2018?

First, companies will use IoT as a tool for cutting both their own and their customers’ operational costs – for example one manufacturer is installing sensors on its aircraft engines to help customers predict and reduce maintenance issues. Second, organisations will use IoT to extend the reach of their services to larger networks and small devices. Banks, for instance, will use IoT to push solutions to customers’ smartphones to stay competitive. Finally, enterprises will explore how IoT can transform the way customers interact with and influence products and services.

How will IoT use differ according to industry sectors?

IoT is pivotal for optimising operations, so every industry will embrace it. Both petrochemical companies and manufacturers will use IoT to digitise production plants, processes, workflows and supply chains, which will prompt a huge rethink about human-machine interactions. Meanwhile, the automotive industry and the public sector will both explore the IoT’s socio-technical benefits. The former will use IoT to monitor customers’ driving and reward them for good behaviour, while the latter will use it to involve communities in powering and managing smart cities.

What will be the biggest IoT adoption barriers?

Data privacy and regulatory compliance will be a major barrier because IoT challenges the traditional notions of personally identifiable data. This will be compounded by the fact that there aren’t currently any global IoT standards, which causes compatibility issues for companies operating in multiple geographies. In addition, some companies will be prevented from pursuing truly disruptive IoT use cases by inertia from their existing institutional culture, IT infrastructures and operational processes. Another challenge will be a potential change in public perception of IoT – a rise in accidents or security breaches caused by IoT may increase public distrust and lead to increased regulation, hampering development and the realisation of societal benefits.

How can companies overcome these challenges?

Rather than hosting data centrally, companies should share non-sensitive data with third parties via distributed IT systems and push computations over personally identifiable data into IoT endpoints – such as customers’ smartphones – so it’s always protected. Organisations must implement a holistic risk management strategy that outlines the security risk of all IoT devices and how breaches will impact business operations. Private, public and territorial bodies will need to make their IoT standards sufficiently consistent with each other, so they can develop a basic underpinning infrastructure for trustworthy worldwide data distribution and analysis. Enterprises should experiment with socio-technical potential of IoE – they could team up with start-ups to see how they’re using the technology to redefine business.

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