Is the Internet of Things dead?
That’s the question Gartner analyst Peter Middleton is fielding with increasing frequency since the acrimonious shutdown of Nest’s smart home hub earlier this year.
“IoT is at the peak of the hype cycle right now. It can’t possibly live up to the unreal expectations that have surrounded it, so over the next couple of years there will be headlines about the death of IoT,” he told CIOs and tech leaders attending a Toronto conference Thursday.
With soft sales and several studies showing consumers losing interest in the idea of the Internet of Things, those headlines have already begun popping up. The decision this spring by Google’s home automation company to abandon a hub that offered consumers control of gadgets ranging from lights to coffee pots from a single app on their smartphone has exacerbated the situation.
But Gartner believes the pessimism will be short-lived, especially as IoT deployment in business surpasses the trendy consumer uses now in place.
The IT research and advisory company predicts there will be 20.8 billion connected devices deployed by 2020. While the vast majority currently in market are consumer focused, Middleton said within five years 7 billion connected things will be driving business applications, saving electricity and water, improving health, and making homes and cars safer.
Middleton agrees study after study has shown there is more awareness about IoT than real action, but he remains confident over time IoT will be seen as a cash generator and will be layered into full business solutions.
The integration will not happen overnight. There are few greenfield opportunities where a fully developed IoT solution can be deployed. In most cases he said IoT’s connected will be integrated into old technology formats and grow gradually only as older pieces are retired.
The issue of scale also poses a challenge. An IoT ecosystem will have to deal with network situations where the demand at one point may be no more than monitoring a lightbulb and at another must accommodate something as complex as video analytics on security footage.
Gartner tips for developing and deploying IoT
- Establish a cross-functional team that can serve as a Centre of Excellence to identify opportunities, pick the right platforms and serve as quality control.
- Audit any IoT projects you already deploy and look for learnings that can be used as you move forward with other projects.
- Don’t build an IoT solution looking for a problem: look for a business value generation opportunity and develop and IoT solution to capitalize on that.
- Start small. Use IoT to manage your LED lighting or heat management. Once you’ve seen a rapid return on investment, perhaps in under a year, you’ll be better prepared to use it for measuring remote devices or tracking vital pieces of equipment.