IoT in 2016: Challenges and Opportunities

Ariel Burch Novak

Image from Blake Patterson used under CC license.

As we start planning for the New Year, we’re also thinking about predictions for how the technology landscape will evolve in 2016. Reporters are already seeking expert sources to predict what will become the hottest trends next year, and as PR practitioners, we always try to stay one step ahead of the latest trends in the industry. Last year, we predicted that 2015 would be the year that the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data would shake up the tech world. And, I can confidently say that prediction was spot on.

Before we look forward, let’s take a quick look back at some of the major IoT developments over the last year. You may have read the frightening news that hackers took advantage of the connected car to hijack a Jeep (incidentally, the brand I drive). While the stunt was orchestrated by Wired, it still showed the very real implications of the connected world we live in – so much so that it led Chrysler to recall 1.4 million vehicles. And, many companies clearly saw the value of IoT, which drove significant M&A activity and investments in the first half of the year.

Looking ahead, Gartner’s 2016 predictions focused heavily on the IoT and smart devices becoming increasingly intelligent as they communicate more with each other. According to Gartner, there will be 21 billion IoT-connected devices by 2020. And, IDC says that, “as we head into 2016, the IoT has gained mainstream awareness, yet organizations are still struggling with how to deal with the complexities of the vendor ecosystem in terms of developing and deploying connected products and services.”

In 2016, I predict the IoT will continue to have a huge impact on the ways consumers interact with the devices we use in our daily lives, and that mainstream adoption of connected devices (from refrigerators to thermostats) will continue to increase. But, IoT will also pose a challenge to organizations – which will have to deal with security concerns, as well as develop new business models to profit from IoT-connected devices. Those innovative tech companies that are able to leverage the power of the IoT will have huge opportunities.

At PAN, we work with many companies on the cutting edge of technology and we recently started working with an especially exciting new client that is making waves in the hot IoT space – Flexera Software, which among many other things, helps intelligent device manufacturers capitalize on the IoT by monetizing their software. Flexera predicted a year ago, also in Wired, the new trend of “Automobiles as a Service,” where cars will do much more than get you to your destination. At the push of a button (or better yet, through a voice command) you’ll be able to use your car for everything from navigation, to playing music, to making a dinner reservation. Cars as a simple mode of transportation will seem quaint in the not-so-distant future. 

As 2015 winds down, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the IoT space and how it evolves. What do you predict will be the big trends in the New Year?

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