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5 predictions for the Internet of Things in 2016

Tom Norris
2015 was a busy time for the Internet of Things. IBM, Google, Samsung and Cisco were all busy investing in the technology – and this year looks set to be even busier.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most revolutionary technology trends of our time. Everyday devices are being embedded with technology so they take on their own online identity and acquire the ability to interact with their external environment. This so-called smart technology makes our lives easier, reduces waste and improves our overall quality of life. 

As more software sits inside a range of devices, 2016 will see a new wave of revenue streams, possibilities and innovation for the IoT. Gartner estimates that the number of connected devices will increase from around five billion last year to around 25 billion by 2020, while IDC predicts the IoT market will reach £1.2 trillion by 2020.

This technology is poised to explode and we’re right to believe the hype. Here are five predictions for what the IoT holds in 2016.

1. Focus on the security of things

Such drastic growth in the IoT market has unsurprisingly given rise to concerns about the security risk of having so many connected devices. The IoT will inevitably become the focus for cybercriminals and hackers looking to exploit the technology’s weaknesses. Whether for financial gain, ethical reasons, or merely for the thrill of it, hackers are renowned for their doggedness and determination. Hacks targeting connected devices will increase in scope and complexity. Security will become a competitive differentiator for businesses that can no longer treat security as an afterthought. Cyber security specialists (already highly sought after) will become one of the hottest IT recruits over the coming months.

2. The bottom line is monetisation

The potential of IoT technology is undeniable, but the possibilities of innovation need to be supported by the promise of profit. Up until now, IoT device manufacturers have been relatively restricted in terms of monetisation options. The next-generation devices will be bolstered by new business models that focus aggressively on new revenue streams. Monetising the embedded and external software that is at the core of all smart devices will help boost that potential even further. As a result, computer hardware engineers, hardware technicians and those with experience of developing mobile apps that communicate with external hardware will be in high demand to facilitate that monetisation.

3. Does it matter how many things?

As any analyst will confirm, putting a figure on a trend is a great way of measuring its popularity or success. And there are plenty of statistics attached to the rise of the IoT (we’ve quoted a few in this article). However, while such stats are impressive, the IoT is essentially about delivering a service rather than the connected ‘things’ themselves. In the coming year, we will see skilled analysts focus less on the quantity of devices and more on the quantifiable impact of these new services (revenue generated and user experience, for example).

4. The ongoing transformation of data

Data is at the heart of the IoT, and the technology is providing businesses with vast swathes of information. However, what businesses actually do with that data doesn’t necessarily match its potential. The data gathered by the IoT offers endless insights into user activity, preferences and goals, but it takes time and resource to pull real value from that data. In the coming year we can expect to see a better understanding of what data holds the most value and how to use that data to make better business decisions. Realising the true potential of big data calls for business intelligence specialists. In this game, it’s all about having strong business acumen to identify new opportunities as they arise.

5. An exemplary user experience

IoT is not yet a household name – but all that will change as manufacturers work hard to strengthen relationships with customers, providing tailored solutions to meet customer needs. The services provided, along with the user experience, will be pivotal to selling these solutions.

Two key industries in which IoT will have a significant impact are manufacturing and healthcare. Medical device makers and auto manufacturers in particular will be able to offer a superior user experience based on big data and strategic insights.

UI and UX designers will be a vital commodity as IoT providers endeavour to create user-friendly interfaces and the best possible user experience. It’s probably time to brush up on your responsive web design and service design skills, then…

No one is in any doubt that the IoT will continue to grow in 2016 and beyond. Businesses will be looking to deliver services that bring in new revenue streams and create enhanced user experiences. Will 2016 be the year you join the IoT revolution too?
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