I’m all about IoT and digitalization anymore. This is the next movement following the automation trend I championed some 15 years ago.

Last month, I started receiving emails about predictions for 2018. Not my favorite topic, but I started saving them. Really only received a couple good ones. Here they are—one from Cisco and one from FogHorn Systems.

Cisco Outlook

From Cisco blog written by Cisco’s SVP of Internet of Things (IoT) and Applications Division, Rowan Trollope, comes several looks at IoT from a variety of angles. There is more at the blog. I encourage you to visit for more details.

Until now, the Internet-of-Things revolution has been, with notable outlier examples, largely theoretical and experimental. In 2018, we expect that many existing projects will show measurable returns, and more projects get launched to capitalize on data produced by billions of new connected things.

With increased adoption there will be challenges: Our networks were not built to support the volumes and types of traffic that IoT generates. Security systems were not originally designed to protect connected infrastructure against IoT attacks. And managing industrial equipment that is connected to traditional IT requires new partnerships.

I asked the leaders of some of the IoT-focused teams at Cisco to describe their predictions for the coming year, to showcase some of these changes. Here they are.

IoT Data Becomes a Bankable Asset

In 2018, winning with IoT will mean taking control of the overwhelming flood of new data coming from the millions of things already connected, and the billions more to come. Simply consolidating that data isn’t the solution, neither is giving data away with the vague hope of achieving business benefits down the line. Data owners need to take control of their IoT data to drive towards business growth. The Economist this year said, “Data is the new oil,” and we agree.

This level of data control will help businesses deliver new services that drive top-line results.

– Jahangir Mohammed, VP & GM of IoT, Cisco

AI Revolutionizes Data Analytics

In 2018, we will see a growing convergence between the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. AI+IoT will lead to a shift away from batch analytics based on static datasets, to dynamic analytics that leverages streaming data.

Typically, AI learns from patterns. It can predict future trends and recommend business-critical actions. AI plus IoT can recommend, say, when to service a part before it fails or how to route transit vehicles based on constantly-changing data.

– Maciej Kranz, VP, Strategic Innovation at Cisco, and author of New York Times bestseller, Building the Internet of Things

Interoperable IoT Becomes the Norm

The growth of devices and the business need for links between them has made for a wild west of communications in IoT. In 2018, a semblance of order will come to the space.

With the release of the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) 1.3 specification, consumer goods manufacturers can now choose a secure, standards-based approach to device-to-device interactions and device-to-cloud services in a common format, without having to rely on, or settle for, a proprietary device-to-cloud ecosystem.

Enterprise IoT providers will also begin to leverage OCF for device-to-device communications in workplace and warehouse applications, and Open Mobile Alliance’s Lightweight Machine-to-Machine (LwM2M) standard will take hold as the clear choice for remote management of IoT devices.

In Industrial IoT, Open Process Communication’s Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) has emerged as the clear standard for interoperability, seeing record growth in adoption with over 120 million installs expected as 2017 draws to an end. It will continue to grow into new industrial areas in 2018 driven by support for Time Sensitive Networking.

– Chris Steck, Head of Standardization, IoT & Industries, Cisco

IoT Enables Next-Gen Manufacturing

Manufacturing is buzzing about Industrie 4.0, the term for a collection of new capabilities for smart factories, that is driving what is literally the next industrial revolution. IoT technologies are connecting new devices, sensors, machines, and other assets together, while Lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement methodologies are harvesting value from new IoT data. Early adopters are already seeing big reductions in equipment downtime (from 15 to 95%), process waste and energy consumption in factories.

– Bryan Tantzen, Senior Director, Industry Products, Cisco

Connected Roadways Lay the Groundwork for Connected Cars

Intelligent roadways that sense conditions and traffic will adjust speed limits, synchronize street lights, and issue driver warnings, leading to faster and safer trips for drivers and pedestrians sharing the roadways. As these technologies are deployed, they become a bridge to the connected vehicles of tomorrow. The roadside data infrastructure gives connected cars a head start.

Connected cities will begin using machine learning (ML) to strategically deploy emergency response and proactive maintenance vehicles like tow trucks, snow plows, and more.

– Bryan Tantzen, Senior Director, Industry Products, Cisco

Botnets Make More Trouble

Millions of new connected consumer devices make a nice attack surface for hackers, who will continue to probe the connections between low-power, somewhat dumb devices and critical infrastructure.

The biggest security challenge I see is the creation of Distributed Destruction of Service (DDeOS) attacks that employ swarms of poorly-protected consumer devices to attack public infrastructure through massively coordinated misuse of communication channels.

IoT botnets can direct enormous swarms of connected sensors like thermostats or sprinkler controllers to cause damaging and unpredictable spikes in infrastructure use, leading to things like power surges, destructive water hammer attacks, or reduced availability of critical infrastructure on a city or state-wide level.

– Shaun Cooley, VP and CTO, Cisco

Blockchain Adds Trust

Cities are uniquely complex connected systems that don’t work without one key shared resource: trust.

From governmental infrastructure to private resources, to financial networks, to residents and visitors, all of a city’s constituents have to trust, for example, that the roads are sound and that power systems and communication networks are reliable. Those working on city infrastructure itself can’t live up to this trust without knowing that they are getting accurate data. With the growth of IoT, the data from sensors, devices, people, and processes is getting increasingly decentralized—yet systems are more interdependent than ever.

As more cities adopt IoT technologies to become smart—thus relying more heavily on digital transactions to operate—we see blockchain technology being used more broadly to put trust into data exchanges of all kinds. A decentralized data structure that monitors and verifies digital transactions, blockchain technology can ensure that each transaction—whether a bit of data streaming from distributed air quality sensors, a transaction passing between customs agencies at an international port, or a connection to remote digital voting equipment—be intact and verifiable.

– Anil Menon, SVP & Global President, Smart+Connected Communities, Cisco

FogHorn Systems

Sastry Malladi, CTO of FogHorn Systems, has shared his top five predictions for the IIoT in 2018.

1. Momentum for edge analytics and edge intelligence in the IIoT will accelerate in 2018.

Almost every notable hardware vendor has a ruggedized line of products promoting edge processing. This indicates that the market is prime for Industrial IoT (IIoT) adoption. With technology giants announcing software stacks for the edge, there is little doubt that this momentum will only accelerate during 2018. Furthermore, traditional industries, like manufacturing, that have been struggling to showcase differentiated products, will now embrace edge analytics to drive new revenue streams and/or significant yield improvements for their customers.

2. Additionally, any industry with assets being digitized and making the leap toward connecting or instrumenting brownfield environments is well positioned to leverage the value of edge intelligence.

Usually, the goal of these initiatives is to have deep business impact. This can be delivered by tapping into previously unknown or unrealized efficiencies and optimizations. Often these surprising insights are uncovered only through analytics and machine learning. Industries with often limited access to bandwidth, such as oil and gas, mining, fleet and other verticals, truly benefit from edge intelligence.

3. Business cases and ROI are critical for IIoT pilots and adoption in 2018

The year 2017 was about exploring IIoT and led to the explosion of proof of concepts and pilot implementations. While this trend will continue into 2018, we expect increased awareness about the business value edge technologies bring to the table. Companies that have been burned by the “Big Data Hype” – where data was collected but little was leveraged – will assess IIoT engagements and deployments for definitive ROI. As edge technologies pick up speed in proving business value, the adoption rate will exponentially rise to meet the demands of ever-increasing IoT applications.

IIoT standards will be driven by customer successes and company partnerships

4. IT and OT teams will collaborate for successful IIoT deployments

IIoT deployments will start forcing closer engagement between IT and operations technology (OT) teams. Line of business leaders will get more serious around investing in digitization, and IT will become the cornerstone required for the success of these initiatives. What was considered a wide gap between the two sectors – IT and OT – will bridge thanks to the recognized collaboration needed to successfully deploy IIoT solutions and initiatives.

5. Edge computing will reduce security vulnerabilities for IIoT assets.

While industries do recognize the impact of an IIoT security breach there is surprisingly little implementation of specific solutions. This stems from two emerging trends:

a) Traditional IT security vendors are still repositioning their existing products to address IIoT security concerns.

b) A number of new entrants are developing targeted security solutions that are specific to a layer in the stack, or a particular vertical.

This creates the expectation that, if and when an event occurs, these two classes of security solutions are sufficient enough. Often IoT deployments are considered greenfield and emerging, so these security breaches still seem very futuristic, even though they are happening now. Consequently, there is little acceleration to deploy security solutions, and most leaders seem to employ a wait-and-watch approach. The good news is major security threats, like WannaCry, Petya/Goldeneye and BadRabbit, do resurface IIoT security concerns during the regular news cycle. However, until security solutions are more targeted, and evoke trust, they may not help move the needle.

 

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