IBM recently unveiled plans to invest $200 million in its Internet of Things (IoT) headquarters in Munich. Previously, it had promised to invest $3 billion over the next four years to bring Watson cognitive computing to IoT
So what is the IoT? Basically, it’s a network of smart devices—e.g., simple physical devices, vehicles, buildings and just about anything else that has one or more of these embedded: electronics, software, sensors, actuators and/or networking. The IoT allows objects to be sensed and/or controlled remotely, which, in turn, allows more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, leading to improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.
You may have heard about the IoT in the news recently when botnet Mirai powered the largest DDoS attack
. There was a 620 Gb per second DDoS against Krebs On Security. Worryingly, the malware made use of a factory default, hard-coded usernames and passwords to compromise vulnerable IoT devices such as insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders, etc.
And yet, the IoT is changing business models, increasing output and automating processes across a number of industries, particularly manufacturing. According to a TATA Consultancy Survey
, automotive, chemical, durable goods, electronics and other manufacturers have invested heavily in IoT devices, and they’re already reaping the benefits. Manufacturers utilizing IoT solutions in 2014 saw an average 28.5 percent increase in revenues between 2013 and 2014.
According to BI Intelligence
, the installed base of manufacturing IoT devices is expected to swell from 237 million in 2015 to 923 million in 2020. By that year, manufacturers will spend about $267 billion on the IoT. And according to the TechSci Research report “Global Internet of Things (IoT) Services Market By Type, By Application, By Region, Competition Forecast & Opportunities, 2011 – 2021,”
the global IoT services market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of over 24 percent between 2016 and 2021 because of the growing cloud computing services market, rising government initiatives for development of smart cities and the ever-increasing number of connected devices generating massive amounts of data.
Going back to IBM’s $200 million investment, which comes as a response to the rising demand for IoT by its existing customers, IBM has seen its clientele going up from 4,000 to 6,000 in 8 months, which is a good indicator of the massive increase in organizations making use of the technology.
According to Garner, by 2020, more than half of new major business processes and systems will incorporate some element of IoT. IDC’s 2016 global survey suggested that 55 percent of respondents see IoT as strategic to their business and as a means to compete more effectively.
With this kind of growth in the use of the IoT, it becomes more important that appropriate security is in place and these security systems aren’t compromised. IBM now has a new set of IoT security solutions and services to enable companies to identify potential risks. It offers companies “advanced security assessment, threat intelligence to identify anomalies and data anonymization to ensure data privacy while maximizing data utility.”
Another prediction is that by 2020, a quarter of identified attacks on enterprises will involve the IoT. Another prediction suggests
that the worldwide spending on IoT security will reach $348 million in 2016, a 23.7 percent increase from 2015, and that it will reach $547 million in 2018.
IBM’s new Natural Language Interface will enable users to develop new voice interfaces using the Watson IoT platform, in homes, shops, offices, cars or anywhere else.
An estimate from IBM suggests that in the next two years, the IoT will be the single greatest source of data from interconnected sensors and devices embedded into innumerable physical systems. But where will all this data go? Clearly, some kind of big data storage and analysis will be required to make use of this information.
And lastly on this topic, even rival technology groups are combining to get the most from the IoT. The Open Connectivity Foundation
(OCF) and the AllSeen Alliance
have agreed to combine their efforts to speed up the adoption of connected devices. A consequence of this should be that devices using OCF’s IoTivity technology should soon be able to connect with devices using AllSeen’s AllJoyn technology. The new group includes Microsoft, Intel, LG Electronics, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Trevor Eddolls is CEO at iTech-Ed Ltd, an IT consultancy. A popular speaker and blogger, he currently chairs the Virtual IMS and Virtual CICS user groups. He’s editorial director for the Arcati Mainframe Yearbook, and has been an IBM Champion every year since 2009.