The IoT market is officially taking off – literally

The IoT market taking off
Image credit | Everett Collection, Inc

Predictions and promises that the IoT market is taking off have been with us for five years (here is an analysis of how those predictions turned out). Now, and yes, partly ‘helped’ by COVID-19, all the lights are green and the numbers suddenly feel real -and even reaching into space.

In 2019, the IoT market already stood at 35.7 billion units – not quite the 50 billion touted a few years ago, but pointing to impressive progress and acceptance of the benefits.

Now, a new (free) whitepaper and (paid) report from Juniper Research point to this growth continuing and the IoT market achieving 83 billion IoT ‘units’ connected by 2024, mainly in manufacturing, retail and agriculture, which will account for 70% of the market.

We have said before that the current circumstances make it impossible to predict, well, anything with any accuracy. However, there are two factors that will balance each other out over the next year or so, that make this growth trajectory entirely believable.

The first is that 5G auctions, standards efforts and roll out will be delayed by COVID-19 and this is already happening. How long this will be is anybody’s guess, but already initiatives that are hoping for a June resumption of activity seem optimistic, to say the least.

To balance this, the IoT market will get a huge boost from the current lockdown. We have a situation where human beings being out and about doing their daily jobs is something to question (and this will take a while to pass). This will create and enhance a cultural acceptance that remotely monitoring and managing everything to do with cities, for example, is the sensible way forward. And cities and companies are quickly seeing how cost effective IoT solutions can be, and how it keeps their workforce safe from COVID-19 (and whatever might follow it).

This cultural acceptance will tip the balance towards quicker, more widespread adoption.

Growing the IoT market to these levels will not be easy and depends, according to Juniper Research, on scalability of solutions and security.

Scalability is the lesser of these challenges (but still tough), yet as recent reports suggest the enormous boost for cloud services and home working solutions is under control and the technology industry is managing this demand smoothly.

Safety is another issue entirely. Every device that is connected is a new attack vector for cyberattack and keeping up with the threat will demand investment, flexibility and an enormous team effort.

Juniper offers two immediate areas of focus, ‘the use of network segmentation to mitigate the risks of lateral movement cybersecurity attacks and ensuring that the lifecycle management of network assets is properly maintained’.

The earth is not the only arena that is seeing the IoT market taking off, as IoT solutions in space are as important as here on earth. Using IoT devices and solutions to keep astronauts safe and physical journeys to a minimum makes total sense and satellite connected devices will pass the 10 million milestone by 2025, according to IHS Markit.

That the IoT market is taking off is in no doubt whatsoever. What is ironic is that, as we have said before, the ‘IoT market’ will not be a market for much longer as IoT devices become part of the industry which they serve. IoT will simply be an integral part of how a market develops, which will mean that by 2024, we may not even measure it anymore. It will have disappeared.

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