Four trends transforming IoT in 2016

Rob Faludi, chief innovator, Digi International

In the coming year, Internet of Things (IoT) vendors could benefit by thinking like Marc Andreessen, the Netscape co-founder who famously proclaimed that “software is eating the world.” It certainly looks like IoT devices will be no exception.

While privacy, security and an endless parade of new protocols will continue to be hot topics, hardware vendors have already begun changing how they design equipment to help their customers realise the true potential of IoT, says, Rob Faludi, chief innovator at Digi International. These new “software-minded” trends include:

1. Overbuilding for longevity and flexibility – Communicative devices will make manufacturers rethink traditional engineering economics. Instead of building to meet only today’s needs, forward-thinking manufacturers have begun “overbuilding” their products with more capabilities than initially required – greater processing power, memory, reprogrammable touchscreens and more – so they can be adapted to fill future needs.

Rather than taking a narrow “lock-and-release” view of the capabilities these products should include, companies will be taking a more iterative approach, designing products that can be changed and upgraded based on real-word usage and market demands. Devices with room to grow bring added flexibility to the product development process and can create significant competitive advantages.

Tesla owners recently learned they could download a software upgrade that allows hands-free driving, helping the company challenge their competition. Tesla vehicles were manufactured with all the required sensors, but their true potential lay dormant until downloads brought them to life. Nest thermostats shipped with extra memory, resources and radios so that useful new functions could be deployed in the field. Many interesting innovations will come as meatier connected devices are deployed to mission-critical endpoints, like remote oil tanks or municipal streetlights, where longevity and future flexibility are keys to maximising ROI.

2. Service models – Overbuilding is just the first step for IoT manufacturers in changing the dynamics of sales and customer engagement. The ability to improve behaviors and monitor and manage devices in the field has opened the door to brand new business models. Robust, flexible hardware can be delivered as a service, similar to the “software-as-a-service” model prevalent in cloud offerings. A great example is a recent smart street light deployed in Los Angeles. Not only can this 4G LTE-connected “smartpole” be remotely managed to save energy and address community needs, the city anticipates offering them as “digital real estate,” creating new revenue sources. 

3. Data-driven decisions – IoT providers originally focused on infrastructure, connections and applications. Now their customers want to employ device data to help design better products and guide their business decisions. Rather than guessing how features are being used in the field, companies can now know exactly how people are harnessing these devices. Turning raw data into actionable information will challenge IoT providers and their customers, but there will be enormous growth in this area as device data is applied to solving real-world business problems. 

4. Systems thinking – IoT companies think a lot about devices, servers and gateways. In the coming year this focus will shift from components to unified distributed applications. By understanding how connected parts behave as part of an entire system, IoT providers will deliver far better designs with higher quality user experiences as well as greater efficiency and reliability. For instance, while clouds can facilitate high-level machine communications, devices cannot depend on their cloud for basic operations, lest they fail any time communications are interrupted. Shifting intelligence to the edge—what Cisco has dubbed “fog computing”—can help IoT applications run reliably while maximising business value. Manufacturers will design components that work together as a team, changing their industries just as Apple’s iPod and iTunes worked together to revolutionise the music business.

Software-minded thinking will provide new value to the IoT supply chain in 2016, and also make it challenging to keep pace with competition that promises service-oriented, data-driven and flexibly integrated IoT systems. Watch for these exciting innovations in the coming year!

The author of this blog is Rob Faludi, chief innovator at Digi International. 

About the author:

Robert Faludi is the chief innovator at Digi International and a professor at New York University and the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. He specialises in behavioral interactions through physical computing and networked objects and is the author of “Building Wireless Sensor Networks,” published by O’Reilly Media. Twitter: @faludi

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @M2MNow OR @jcm2m

RECENT ARTICLES

How will OEMs manufacture the smart factories of the future?

Posted on: September 23, 2022

“By 2025, there will be approximately 27 billion connected IoT devices. Someone is going to have to manufacture these, and OEMs are gearing up to enable as many functions as possible to be integrated into the devices they build.”REGISTER NOW TO READIoT relies on manufacturing efficiency to get massive volumes of devices out into the

Read more

IoT meets the property sector to combat rising energy costs and climate change while increasing property value

Posted on: September 23, 2022

Ericsson released a Connected Buildings Energy Management report in partnership with Nordic property technology company Kiona and Arthur D. Little.

Read more
FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more
IoT Newsletter

Join the IoT Now online community for FREE, to receive: Exclusive offers for entry to all the IoT events that matter, round the world

Free access to a huge selection of the latest IoT analyst reports and industry whitepapers

The latest IoT news, as it breaks, to your inbox