August 19, 2019 - It continues to pay to be bullish on the potential of the Internet of Things. After all, studies repeatedly point to the fact that the Internet of Things is growing at a feverish rate.
McKinsey, for example, predicts the number of IoT devices to reach 43 billion by 2023, a threefold increase from 2018. Likewise, IDC thinks that overall IoT spending will reach a massive $1.2 trillion in 2022, a nearly 14 percent growth over the 2017-2022 forecast period. And Gartner states that the sheer number of IoT-connected devices will mushroom from 20 billion in 2020 to 64 billion by 2025.
What is driving all this growth? A number of factors, actually.
Broad industry applications
Unlike many hot new technologies, the IoT isn’t designed for niche applications, nor is it optimized for just one industry, or even a limited class of businesses. Rather, the IoT has something to offer businesses of every size, from enterprise to SMB, and across domains as diverse as retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and utilities.
There’s virtually no industry that can’t benefit from the IoT, making its growth potential exponential – especially as businesses see the ROI from pilot IoT programs in adjacent industries and decide to invest in it themselves. After all, when investments in traditional IT programs don’t always yield easy-to-understand or obvious cost benefits, everyone can wrap their head around the value of predictive maintenance and improving workflow through real-time feedback.
It’s also a technology that cuts across enterprise and consumer sectors; consumers have demonstrated an eagerness to embrace the IoT at home, via their cars, and in wearable tech (like health bands, smartphones, and smart watches) they keep on their body. This means consumers are already primed to deliver data to the IoT via their existing lifestyle, and that kind of synergy between brand and consumer is going to explode in the coming decade.
5G will bring even more innovation
What’s more, the IoT is, of course, a network, and we are at the start of a massive worldwide wireless network upgrade – the deployment of 5G. New 5G networks promise to deliver peak speeds of as much as 20 Gbps, compared to existing 4G’s 10 Mbps. And the network latency is expected to be below 1 ms – compared 30 ms or more for 4G networks.
5G’s low latency will also support new protocols, including Machine Type Communications (mMTC) and Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and low power modes mean remote sensors that never go offline because batteries need to be changed frequently.
The upshot of all that is that 5G will enable technology that’s going to supercharge both new and existing IoT networks, allowing businesses to deploy sensors to do things previously considered impossible, or at least impractical. Low latency, low power, fast communication with network nodes (like sensors and actuators) that are battery-powered and positioned in remote, hard-to-maintain locations – these are going to fuel new growth in manufacturing, utilities, smart buildings, and more.
Component prices coming down
Finally, all this growth is going to help drive down component prices, which is a further growth incentive for businesses looking for an entryway into the Internet of Things. IoT components are already part of a mature, robust industry – the IoT is embedded both in the enterprise and consumer markets, and to some degree, the components are interchangeable.
Many IoT pilot programs rely on off-the-shelf consumer tech for network endpoints like sensors and actuators, and additional corporate investment with flatten prices while also creating new markets for more robust IT-department-approved IoT devices. And because networks like these often benefit from scaling up and continuing to add nodes, the industry won’t just grow from new businesses investing in IoT, but in existing players expanding their IoT networks with additional hardware.
The bottom line? It’s rare to find so many factors conspiring to poise an emerging technology for such success, but IoT is what the future is going to look like for quite some time to come.