The burgeoning internet of things (IoT) stands poised to change our world in ways as profound as the dawn of the Internet age, if not more so, by merging the physical with the digital. 2016 saw IoT begin to realize its potential.
Here are our picks for the most significant IoT trends in 2016, as illustrated in 18 stories from the past year.
Envisioning a new world with IoT
Connected cars and fitness monitors are well-established IoT devices in the public imagination at this point, but IoT is also already trickling into our world in other profound ways, from utilities, to retail, municipalities and more.
With the help of GE Power, the New York Power Authority is leveraging sensors and predictive analytics to reduce unplanned downtime and make its 16 generating facilities and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines more efficient.
The world of retail may never be the same, thanks to the internet of things (IoT) and its network of connections linking the physical and digital worlds in an ecosystem of computers, smartphones, stores, vehicles, wearables and more.
Local, state and federal government officials agree that smart cities initiatives, enabled by the Internet of Things, is set to transform municipal life. Water management, energy conservation, transportation, public safety and the environment all stand to benefit.
Chick-fil-A is turning to the 'Internet of Chicken' to improve food safety. It's using low-power wireless sensors and gateways to monitor walk-in freezers and refrigerators. If a temperature falls below a certain threshold, the system issues alerts.
Airlines, airport operators, airplane manufacturers and other travel and aviation industry suppliers are deploying IoT technologies to improve travelers' experiences, as well as safety, maintenance and performance.
With the help of Teradata, rail operators are using IoT technologies to prevent derailments and increase the profitability of their routes.
Bring in the drones
With some regulatory barriers easing, commercial small unmanned aircraft may soon deliver a wealth of new data.
In August, the FAA released new regulations for the low-altitude operation of commercial small unmanned aircraft, potentially unlocking a wave of new data and business models built on that data.
Travelers is experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles to take live video and photos of property damage, relaying the data to claims agents' devices in real-time and eliminating the need for agents to climb roofs themselves.
Farmers Insurance is testing the use of drones to detect wildfire hazards and sensors to detect motor vehicle damage. The concepts are part of a corporate imperative to embrace emerging technologies that can help its representatives more quickly resolve claims.
IoT and digital transformation go hand-in-hand
IoT isn't just about instrumenting the physical world. Data from devices, and the analytics to crunch that data, is driving the need for digital transformation of the enterprise.
Connecting devices is just the first act in an Internet of Things production. The magic happens when analytics transform data into business intelligence. CIOs need to play a role.
The venerable General Electric is undergoing a profound change as the result of digital transformation and the Industrial Internet of Things. Its evolution is providing insight into what's coming for the industrial sector overall.
Whirlpool CIO Mike Heim is replacing the company's aging SAP ERP systems with the vendor's HANA software, and is working closely with IBM on its Internet of Things predictive analytics platform.
Technology wholesaler Avnet is building an IoT solution for predictive machine maintenance of machines that pick, pack and route products around its fulfillment centers. The sensors will alert employees to potential mechanical breakdowns.
IoT and digital transformation means rethinking staffing and training
As with other disruptive technologies driving digital transformation, the changes wrought by IoT will affect your staffing needs and the skills tech workers need to acquire to stay relevant.
Hard skills like circuit design and security will be critical, but there are other, less tangible ways IoT will affect the demand for tech workers.
IoT is in the midst of an explosion as more connected devices proliferate. But there's not enough talent with the right skills to manage and execute on IoT projects. In fact, insufficient staffing and lack of expertise is the top-cited barrier for organizations currently looking to implement and benefit from IoT.
Security and privacy remain IoT bugbears
IoT offers numerous benefits, but we can't lose sight of security. Many sensors and devices have come to market with security and privacy as an afterthought.
The internet of things (IoT) shows huge promise in the healthcare sector, but there are serious security implications. Device manufacturers need to do more to secure devices and hospital CIOs need to demand better security.
In the rush to bring connected devices to market, security and privacy is often overlooked. If businesses don't make systematic changes to the way these devices are brought to market, we risk the weaponization of these devices.
Gaining awareness of devices residing on corporate networks is the first step to building a viable security architecture for IoT. The problem? Most CIOs don't know what's on those networks.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.