Could 2016 be the year of IOT?

Could 2016 be the year of IOT?

The last 12 months have proved pivotal in the shaping of several digital trends, but the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) may still be yet to reach its highest peak.

The possibilities of IoT have been roundly discussed ever since the term was first brought about, bringing forth a number of exciting propositions for businesses and wider everyday life.

There have even murmurs that its influence could be so great as to introduce another industrial revolution.

Large market (that keeps getting bigger)

The next year is only going to see IoT become all the more important. Juniper Research estimates that by 2020, the number of devices connected to the internet will reach 38.5 billion, meaning there will inevitably come a day when nearly every digital product on the market will hold some method of connectivity.

There are seemingly no industries capable of holding immunity from IoT's influence. Smart farming could be used to save water, while drones and tracking devices will take digital security to a previously unimaginable level – a key factor given the exponential rise in mobile and flexible working practices.

The groundwork for all of these solutions was laid out in 2015 and many experts believe the coming year will inevitably see IoT systems continue to grow.

Even industries that previously had nothing to do with the digital landscape could be forced to sit up and take notice.

As Rich Tehrani, a VoIP expert and columnist wrote in an article for IoT Evolution: "Companies are evolving into software businesses quite out of necessity. Airbnb and Uber are doing to hotels and taxis what Amazon did to retail. Software now enables companies to compete, even against entrenched monopolies, like never before."

Challenges to overcome

While the next 12 months could certainly represent something of a key period for the IoT revolution, there are nevertheless several big challenges that need to be overcome if it is to have the universal influence outlined by so many analysts.

Perhaps the key issue is bringing all devices together. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung all have their own operating systems and protocols. While many of them overlap, a substantial number do not.

It seems the size of the market is, at the moment, both a driver and hinderance to IoT growth. There is seemingly no simple way to purchase a product carrying a guarantee of functionality without a significant amount of research.

It is a view shared by Frank Gillett, a vice president and analyst at research firm Forrester, who told Wired: “As a shelf item in an Apple Store or Best Buy, it [IoT] works. But if you want to make those things sing and dance together, forget it.”

Until there is more harmony in the market, it seems there is a long way to go until IoT has the influence needed to create the smart homes, workplaces and even cities that so many experts have previously predicted.