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How IoT transforms the overall business landscape

“Internet of Things” or IoT, refers to the system where computing devices or other digital machines are interrelated and can transfer data between themselves over a network (it does not require any human-to-computer or human-to-human interaction).

The technology of the Internet of Things is not new and that’s where Accion Labs represents a very important shift in tech culture, and in terms of how our consumers co-exist with tech. We don't necessarily try to change the world. Focus on making people's daily lives incrementally better and the rest will take care of itself. IoT plays a major role here.

Let’s talk about future developments in the IoT space that have begun to transform the business landscape.

1: Healthcare IoT will continue to lead the pack.

Ultra-low-power devices and wearable sensors are ready for prime time. In the upcoming year, long-running experimentation in healthcare will solidify the sector's status as the most promising space for IoT innovation.

IoT in hospitals will continue to emerge as a particularly strong growth area. Like factories, hospitals—with their complex floor plans and expensive and often-portable equipment—are natural candidates for indoor navigation and track-and-trace technology. And they could profit from the sensitive bio-dynamic and personalized temperature and lighting control that IoT tech can enhance.

2: Smart city applications will take a big leap forward.

Some of the world's largest cities have made long-term commitments to IoT-powered smart tech.

On a 12-acre plot in Toronto's Quayside, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs is taking the latest stab at building a smart city from the ground up. Its plans discard almost every contemporary urban planning assumption in favor of self-maintaining sidewalks, buildings that can grow and shrink as occupancy needs change, and mixed-use spaces whose use is informed by data.

We find that cities could improve some key quality-of-life indicators by 10-30 percent—numbers that translate into lives saved, reduced crime, shorter commutes, a lower health burden, and carbon emissions averted.

3: Consumer IoT innovation will come from the Doers, not just the Visionaries.

IoT app development is reaching that point today where it's not the billionaire visionaries who are doing the bulk of the important work. Rather, it's the talented developers, skilled but nameless tech-company technicians, and others who are finding innovative ways to add value to products and methods that already exist.

The IoT is starting to blossom as the smartphone market blossomed a decade ago when app stores hit the mainstream and the tinkers could really get on with their tinkering. App developer programs are beginning to appear, and these will make it possible for high-skill developers from a wide range of backgrounds to efficiently create new solutions that leverage the data and capabilities that IoT systems and platforms afford.

4: Smart warehousing will be the key.

The IoT promises to transform warehousing and manufacturing operations within the next twenty years. With their emphasis on safety, keeping costs low, and operational efficiency, industrial applications are a natural fit.

A Smart Warehouse is automated and connected, meaning that it is data-driven. The physical operation is integrated with the digital processes. The purpose is to cut the need for manual handling and increase the speed, quality, flexibility, and efficiency of logistics processes.

5: IoT will burgeon as a commuter technology.

The coming years will see IoT play a bigger role in personal transportation of all kinds. Automobile driver assist technology will improve, as it has in every recent model year, and connected sensors will play a bigger role in that development. Smart street lighting, meanwhile, will make roads safer for pedestrians, with pedestrian and automobile traffic patterns triggering lighting behaviors. Data-driven parking apps, enabled by sensors embedded in light poles, will cut down the time that drivers spend hunting for places to put their cars.

IoT-driven technologies, including navigation and payment solutions, will make life easier for users of public transportation networks. The IoT will also improve routing between multiple modes of transportation. Sure, the trains will run (more consistently) on time—but they'll also run in such a way as to optimize connections with buses, tramways, and even bicycles.

6: IoT innovation will focus on interoperability.

Interoperability doesn't mean that every single device needs to speak with every other device at all times. There will still be a role for different types of networks: some that prioritize peer-to-peer meshing and others that prioritize centralized control. But without more attention to interoperability, billions of devices could require field service or replacement before the end of their useful lives.

Finding the right stakeholder organization with which to collaborate on interoperability issues can be a challenge in itself. Interoperability ought to improve as more attention is paid to open APIs, clearly delineated standards, and clearly articulated use cases.

7: In an anxious age, edge security will be key to IoT adoption.

Enthusiasm for IoT is considerable. So is concern about the cybersecurity risks it brings. This year the security weaknesses of legacy systems will hinder the adoption of new technologies. In the cloud, IoT developers can tighten the authentication process governing device participation and data exchange, and ensure that all traffic between cloud resources and edge devices is fully authenticated and encrypted.

8: Demand for IoT solutions to climate change will intensify.

IoT solutions have demonstrated the legitimate potential to improve the quality and sustainability of human life, whether they're helping people boost agricultural yields or reduce resource consumption. As the climate change alarm bells get louder, public expectations will grow for IoT-driven solutions to provide cleaner air and water and better resource efficiency.

Sustainability and climate change are at least as much about policy and political will as they are about technology. Look for more talk in 2020 about how IoT solutions can make fostering sustainability easy, or at least easier, and thus eliminate some of the politically perilous trade-offs that have killed so many green initiatives before they got off the ground.

9: You'll hear more about Data Science and Artifical Intelligence in the IoT.

IoT growth requires the input of more data from more connected systems. That fact is going to shift the spotlight from the capabilities of the IoT devices themselves to the ever-deeper pools of data they're creating.

Combing through those pools of data at speed and scale requires heaps of formal discipline—and even more computing power. Data scientists and their AI assistants are going to have as much influence over the next transformative IoT project as the creators of its hardware and software will.

10: We'll see a new focus on social issues, IoT governance, and user experience.

Accion Labs urges organizations to evaluate the value—and the values—underlying all IoT projects. It urges a move away from ill-defined or tech-for-tech's-sake investments in favor of those geared towards concrete goals. Per Gartner - "The majority of IoT projects should target financial payback in less than one year. Our research center encourages IT and business leaders to put social and user experience considerations front-and-center.

Conclusion: Specialized terms and modifiers always have a shorter life than the bigger ideas they're meant to express. When all cars have electric motors in an assist or primary drive mode, we'll stop talking about “hybrid" cars and just call them “cars." As IoT devices become part of the way we use technology every day, they won't need a special designation, they'll just be “things,” and we'll be surprised not when they are connected, but when they aren't.