The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to generate revenue exceeding $300 billion, but whilst there has been much conversation around the devices and apps, there is little clarity on how businesses will monetise IoT or how they will manage and secure those applications, devices and data.
Here are my predictions for 2015, which focus on the upcoming challenges of "BYOIoT" in the work place, securing the connected vehicle and the opportunities for everything from healthcare to the supply chain.
B2B in the Cloud: 1980 Was a Long Time Ago
Data sharing is a vital cornerstone of every enterprise, but in 2014 we are still relying on technology that was developed in the 80s: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). Although EDI has proven itself to be a reliable method of exchanging data over the past 30 years, we're now diving head first into the cloud, and the technology securing these flows of data needs to keep up with the changing data landscape.
Businesses now deal with multiple applications, standards and a host of business partners using a plethora of different devices to connect to the cloud. With Gartner predicting that in 2015 there will be more than 4.9 billion connected 'things', B2B cloud technology will need to work much harder for businesses. It will need to take data exchanges beyond the simple computer-computer communication that EDI enables to a much wider cloud-based ecosystem.
The B2B cloud technologies of 2015 will be able to support multiple standards and legacy systems, enabling companies to move beyond EDI and into the cloud. In doing so, organisations will be able to meet employee' demand for constant access to data flows from multiple devices.
Bring Your Own Internet of Things
BYOD will evolve into BYOIoT in 2015, which means businesses will need to wake up to the potential risks that come with employees using wearable devices. At the onset of 2014 smartwatches were for early adopters, but when Apple joined the fray it accelerated the wearable tech revolution. The number and variety of wearable devices is set to explode in 2015, and enter the workplace.
But the apps they are built on are only as strong as the ecosystem around them, the mobile apps, social media APIs and website interface to analyse the data, will need to evolve at the same rate as the devices themselves. There are a number of opportunities to be had: The rapid growth of devices and IoT business ideas will make more people sit up and take notice of related opportunities. Take aggregated fitness data, for example: fitness band users may have little control or awareness of how their data is stored, exchanged or sold on. It seems inevitable that insurance companies may be interested in aggregated data about exercise and fitness habits that they could be used in conjunction with personal data such as geography or age brackets.
However, there are also risks: the more links in the chain, means the greater the security risk. With everything connected, one chink in the armour could lead to serious security implications. Businesses need to be mindful of what data external devices bring into the business and what they takes away with it. Users must be more mindful about how wearables gather their data.
Unfortunately, we will likely see some incidents before this is taken seriously. It may be that vendors need to take a leaf out of Google's book and ultimately adhere to a 'right to be forgotten' approach, for data generated by IoT devices such as wearables. In the meantime, businesses need to look at whether they get employees to register their connected devices, and whether they roll out a policy or code of conduct, particularly when it comes to traceable devices.
The Connected Vehicle
2015 will be a watershed year for the connected vehicle. Gartner has predicted that the number of devices interacting with the connected vehicle will jump from 189 million in 2014 to 372 million in 2015.
Next year, there's a very good chance that when you buy your new car, the dealer will ask you what mobile plan you want. Connected vehicles including company cars and commercial vehicles will deliver new capabilities and concepts in transportation logistics and fleet management. The haulage industry has already embraced tracking technologies, for example to monitor driver miles and hours at the wheel.
Although technology will mature in 2015, data management, privacy and security will remain as drag factors. Data protection and privacy regulations remain incomplete, even in the EU. As connected vehicles will be communicating to various applications through APIs, the companies delivering those apps need to ensure that they are secure and are using the resulting data responsibly.
Digitising Healthcare in the Connected Home
2014 was a tipping point for the connected home, and it's already delivered big business opportunities: Samsung has just announced a partnership with healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, to further develop smart tech healthcare. In 2015, the smart home will be pivotal when it comes to digital healthcare. Patients can already connect a hearing aid to the TV via Bluetooth; devices can offer remote stroke diagnosis or issue health warnings, and games consoles can be used for remote rehabilitation. As well as hugely improving patient care, this kind of innovation can go a long way to managing healthcare costs including the £20bn savings budget the NHS has been tasked with meeting.
However, in order for these services to be effective, people must open up both their homes and personal medical data. The medical profession must embrace it too - yet four in ten GPs have already opted out of digital medical records. Keeping patient records out of harm's way will be one of the biggest challenges of digital healthcare, not just to ensure the privacy of patient data but to gain the confidence of consumers so they are comfortable using these devices. There is zero room for error, and any data breaches will significantly impact uptake. In the next twelve months it will be essential for devices to be authenticated and for data flows to be traced. There needs to be a secure layer between devices and the Internet and it needs to be the same across the board. An API gateway is the perfect way to control access and block attacks to these devices, whilst still providing access to the right people to ensure continued innovation.
Securing the supply chain in an IoT world
IoT is moving from concept to reality for the supply chain. When it comes to manufacturing there is one key focus - streamlining operations - both through cost reduction and operational efficiency. Through the potential to seamlessly connect touch points, processes and devices the IoT completely connects the supply chain ecosystem providing a platform to speed up operations at every stage. However, it has also introduced additional complexities that could serve as serious pitfalls for businesses in 2015.
As Gartner has outlined: the coming flood of billions of new Internet-connected devices will not only "significantly alter supply chain leader information access," but also their "cyber-risk exposure." Next year, due to the huge number of machines and devices that will be involved in a fully connected supply chain, it is essential that organisations ensure that they have robust security practices in place.
The supply chain will be connecting via APIs, and this offers a new attack surface for hackers to exploit. Therefore tighter security must be established at the API layer - otherwise other layers of security become meaningless. Supply chain organisations will therefore need to rapidly adopt API security solutions such as API Gateways over the next year to ensure their increasingly broad networks don't fall victim to costly security breaches.