IoT spend to smash through $1trn mark soon, despite all the failures

15 Jun 2017

Image: Whyframe/Shutterstock

Market analyst IDC has revised its IoT predictions, with growth speeding up and global spending expected to reach almost $1.4trn by 2021.

“The discussion about IoT has shifted away from the number of devices connected,” according to Carrie MacGillivray, IDC’s vice-president of internet of things (IoT), with actionable data within the devices now the key.

It is this focus, she said, that saw a change in IDC’s predictions of where the industry is going, and how costly it will prove to be.

The company now forecasts worldwide spending on IoT to grow 16.7pc this year, reaching more than $800bn by the end of 2017.

Continuing this trend, the $1bn mark should be hit by mid-2019, with nearly $1.4bn spent by 2021.

Key areas in IoT

Areas such as manufacturing operations, freight monitoring and production, and asset management will be the key to this growth, with industrial IoT (IIoT) clearly the flavour of the month.

Add to this the expected surge in interest in utility connectivity, through smart grids in energy and water for example, and IIoT is the new golden child.

IIoT’s fanbase is such that Actility, a company interested in low-power wide-area networks (LPWAN) for the industry, this week added another funder to its massive $74m Series D round. Investors now include Cisco Investments, Orange, Inmarsat, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Cready.

“As enterprises are adopting to new and innovative services provided by different vendors, a lot of new threats are introduced, so it’s very important to upgrade existing security systems to ensure that an optimal business outcome can be reached and ROI can be justified,” said IDC’s Ashutosh Bisht.

Fail away with me

Of course, not all of this spend will be wise, with a certain amount of ‘good money after old rope’ an inevitability when an area such as IoT – commercial or industrial – sees so many people racing for the next great product or service.

A recent report from Cisco found that more than one-third of all IoT projects fail to get beyond the proof-of-concept phase, with marginally more than one-quarter becoming a success.

“It’s not for lack of trying. But there are plenty of things we can do to get more projects out of pilot and to complete success, and that’s what we’re here in London to do,” said Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s SVP and GM of IoT.

The study showed how strong an effect ‘human factors’ can have on the success of projects, with everything from culture to leadership pivotal in the early stages of development. Elsewhere, going it alone was highlighted as a big problem.

That said, these seemingly endless failures are but a graze on the knee of IoT.

Secure? Nah

IoT will spread rapidly between now and 2026, despite the growing threats – both real and imagined – that surround the security of societies that are growing more and more digital.

That’s according to a study from Pew Research Center, which, along with Elon University, canvassed hundreds of experts to assess where we’re headed.

The findings show that further human and machine connectivity is inevitable, despite events such as the recent WannaCry ransomware and Mirai botnet attack. Given the extreme disruption that both caused, it seems that they barely left a bruise on our thirst for connectivity.

“Participants in this canvassing said a variety of forces will propel more connectivity over the next decade that manifests in things like cars, medical devices, public infrastructure and home ‘smart’ systems,” said Lee Rainie, co-author of the study.

“They argue that humans crave connection; that the IoT will bring advantages that are useful; that people’s desire for convenience will usually prevail over their concerns about risk, and these factors will make it difficult – if not impossible – for people to opt out of a highly connected life.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic