Gartner: The IoT is about Making Business Smarter
It’s tempting to view the Internet of Things (IoT) as a distinct technology solution. After all, the IoT encompasses a wide array of tech components, devices, and systems en route to new and better ways of collecting data. But that would be a mistake. In reality, the IoT is nothing more than a framework for enabling other technologies. Think of it as a LAN or WAN on steroids.
Instead of connecting a few devices—namely big, bulky computers—the IoT potentially connects everything. Recognizing this fact is critical, because successful IoT deployments require more than technical knowledge and an understanding of how the plumbing and wiring work. It’s necessary to appreciate the strategic possibilities and opportunities the IoT delivers.
A report from Gartner, Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019, snaps the issue squarely into focus. “The future will be characterized by smart devices delivering increasingly insightful digital services everywhere,” notes David Cearley, a distinguished vice president and analyst and the study’s author.
The concept, which Gartner refers to as a “digital mesh,” is all about embedding artificial intelligence (AI) in virtually every device, blending the digital and physical worlds, and exploiting connections between expanding sets of people, devices, content, and services. This requires “continuous innovation” as part of a “continuous next strategy,” Cearley notes.
An Eye on IoT Trends
According to Gartner, there are several important trends, all revolving around emerging technologies, that will fuel transformative change across a spectrum of industries. Not surprisingly, every technology Gartner cites intersects and interconnects with the IoT.
Perhaps the biggest factor is a greater reliance on autonomous things, such as robotics, vehicles, drones, appliances, and agents. Some companies, including the likes of Microsoft and Uber, already use robots to patrol parking lots in order to prevent crime and improve safety.
Another key trend is augmented analytics, which involves new types of data, the use of AI to power other technologies, and the ability of non-data scientists to process and manipulate data. At the center of all of this is AI-driven development, which essentially embeds AI into everything and expands the concept to include AI in software development processes.
Still another key concept Gartner cites in its report is digital twins. These advanced simulations mirror physical events and processes. Although digital twins have been widely used for the last decade, increasingly sophisticated digital frameworks are further ratcheting up the possibilities and introducing new business outcomes. Gartner contends that the use of digital twins in the IoT could dramatically improve decision making.
The consulting firm also recommends focusing on a few other key areas: immersive technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality; blockchain; smart spaces that allow humans and embedded systems to interact seamlessly; and an empowered edge that maintains persistent connections among sensors, devices, and systems. The latter requires new thinking about storage, sensors, and computing, and ways to embed AI into the network.
Emerging Tech = Emerging Opportunity
Navigating this emerging framework requires a vision and a strategic understanding of how different technologies combine to create a sum greater than the individual parts. Yes, channel pros, systems integrators, and others assembling IoT systems must thoroughly understand the technical underpinnings for the IoT. This is nothing less than critical.
The real winners will be those that can deliver business value to clients. It’s an increasingly challenging proposition but one that’s also unavoidable. As digital technologies become even more pervasive, the IoT will be at the center of everything.
Samuel Greengard is a business and technology writer based in West Linn, Ore. He is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).