The emerging Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is one of the most important technology trends of our time – with the potential to radically impact the way businesses and consumers interact with each other and their surrounding infrastructure. It connects the physical with the virtual world as never before. A whole array of physical “things” – from people and places through cars and computers to domestic appliances and production machinery – is being equipped with embedded electronics systems, software and sensors.

This is paving the way for a new dimension in connectivity and intelligence with profound implications for our society and economy: The IoT will allow us to predict errors in production settings long before they occur, makes driving safer and more convenient and will lead to substantial energy savings in home and business settings. Across markets, innovative business models offering advantages for business and new consumer experiences are rapidly emerging.

How fast is the Internet of Things growing?

Sources: IDC/Gartner/HP

According to the UN/ITU Broadband Commission there will be up to 5 billion connected people by 2020. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that the installed base of IoT units and systems will grow at a 17.5% CAGR to reach 28.1 billion in 2020. And the amount of data generated annually is anticipated to reach 40 zettabytes that year. At the same time, the worldwide market for IoT solutions is expected to grow at a 20% CAGR from US$ 1.9 trillion in 2013 to US$ 7.1 trillion in 2020.

Sustainable IoT success hinges on making the things smart, secure and power-efficient

Smart. Smartification enables connected things to deliver data and react to the data they receive. To turn objects cyber-physical, they need embedded electronics such as sensors, processors, security controllers and actuators. They allow them to sense, compute, actuate and communicate.

Secure. Its many connections make the IoT vulnerable. Hardware-based security prevents fraud and manipulation, monitors data and device integrity, but also includes system functionality and availability. The right hardware makes connections secure – and builds trust in the IoT.

Power-efficient. In order to stay connected to the IoT, devices, machines and vehicles are “always on”. But always-on connectivity is a power drain. Intelligent and efficient power management is a key challenge in the IoT.

The right technology for sustainable IoT success

By now, we see the IoT become reality. Every day, more objects get connected to the IoT and businesses bring innovative IoT applications to the market. Nevertheless, the IoT is still in its infancy and the true economic value has yet to unfold. Prerequisite for sustainable IoT success are industry-specific business models that generate true customer value.

The right technology brings IoT business models to life and ensures ease-of-use, reliable performance and security. From a technical perspective, IoT business models across industries rely on the smart aggregation and interpretation of data: On device level, intelligent objects equipped with sensors, processors, security and actuators to collect, analyze and coordinate data, secure it and issue actions, if required. On cloud level, the information of the individual intelligent devices is aggregated. A range of applications processes the available information according the defined use cases.

From a technical perspective, three essential ingredients pave the way to sustainable IoT success:

Sustainable IoT success hinges on making the “things” connected to the Internet smart, secure and power-efficient. Smart “things” deliver the desired data and react properly to the data they receive from internal and external sources. The right security is vital to ensure trust of both businesses and end customers: It protects against security attacks, breakdowns and loss of data integrity, but also secures business models against considerable financial damages.
Device protection, prevention of fraud and manipulation, or data and device integrity are key security concepts. Power-efficiency is key to bringing the objects to life and allows them to be sensitive, give impulses and interact with each other. Always-on connectivity is a power drain. The power needed for such wide-scale device connectivity has to be produced, managed and delivered in the most energy-efficient way possible, and performance of all these networked devices must be optimized.

The IoT is all about integration: hardware and software components are integrated to make up smart, secure and power-efficient devices. Via communication interfaces, integration spans even further. The quality of individual, components directly impacts the quality of the IoT solutions in terms of ease-of-use, reliable performance and security.

Smart things, smart systems, smart services – Addressing the entire IoT value chain

The third ingredient in enabling sustainable IoT success from a technology perspective entails the seamless interplay between all three levels of the IoT value chain: smart things, smart systems and smart services.

For instance, in a smart factory environment (also known as Industry 4.0), smart devices such as RFID tags, PLCs, sensors,intelligent high-power modules and industrial microcontrollers are deployed to automate manufacturing and supply systems. These systems are now enabling new kinds of intelligent services such as machine self-monitoring and self-maintenance, seamless traceability of parts and components, just-in-time-production and performance-optimized power consumption.