A whopping 38.5 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be deployed by 2020, according to data from Juniper Research, representing a 285 percent increase on the 13.4 billion currently in use.
Juniper said that the bulk of this growth will come from businesses in sectors such as retail, agriculture, smart buildings and smart grids, rather than more headline-grabbing consumer use for ‘smart home’ applications.
“This is due in no small part to a much stronger business case for these types of applications,” Juniper said in The Internet of Things: Consumer, Industrial & Public Services 2015-2020 report.
Last week the government issued a report urging retailers to embrace emerging technology trends like the IoT as a means to improve productivity by automating supply chains and boosting delivery times and stock efficiencies.
However, Juniper analyst and research author Steffen Sorrell told V3 that businesses embracing the IoT must have the right systems in place to use the reams of additional data they will gather.
"On the whole, the priority for most businesses in the context of IoT at present is adopting a connected strategy, particularly as more and more case studies of successful projects emerge," he said.
"Having these connected systems communicating with one another, and enhancing the analytics side of things is still a few years off. In most cases, this will also involve adopting a cloud computing strategy as most businesses will not have the infrastructure in place to cope with the volumes of gathered data."
While this may involve initital outlays for firms, both in deploying new systems and moving existing systems to the cloud, the cost benefits could be huge.
"The insight gathered either opens new revenue streams, or reveals opportunities to reduce cost. For example, smart meters negate the need to send out a technician to read the meter: the cost-savings potential from that transformation alone is massive," said Sorrell.
The report also highlighted barriers to IoT growth, mainly the risk of conflicting standards not working together. Sorrell said that efforts to address this are paying off, although other issues still remain.
"Key hurdles remain – system integration and security. The former is likely to remain a pain point given that each business has unique needs, while the latter will require a change in network security approaches – detecting anomalous activity on the network and the ability to ‘shut off’ portions of the network to prevent an attack spreading will become a crucial part of defence."
Juniper’s research mirrors that of IDC which said in June that it expects spending on IoT systems to reach $1.7tn by 2020, and that enterprises will drive the bulk of spending on this emerging area of technology.
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