The year 2021 may have moved out, but the innovations it brought to IoT are here to stay and are developing in more ways than could have been anticipated. IoT is being used to enrich ecosystems across industries from manufacturing to agriculture to be more data-driven and efficient. According to McKinsey, investment in IoT technology is projected to grow at 13.6% in 2022, representing a CAGR of 24% as IoT continues to surge past the 200 known applications for enterprise settings.
Yet, the use cases for IoT have not all been about profit generation. The COP26 meeting in October demonstrated the many ways that IoT could be used to help support a more sustainable future.
Below we explore the newest technological innovations, used in tandem with IoT, and how they are expanding the range of uses and applications. First we will take a look at the challenges 2021 left us and how they may be overcome.
Cybersecurity – During the first half of 2021 IoT cyberattacks more than doubled. From January to June, some 1.51 billion breaches against IoT devices occurred, an increase from 639 million over the same period in 2020. This surge has IT decision-makers highly concerned. Roughly a third believe attacks on IoT devices are likely to hit critical operations, while 26% expect data generated by IoT will be breached and in violation of regulatory requirements.
Compounding this challenge is that many of the industries where IoT provides multiple use case value, such as agriculture, shipping, and utilities, are conservative by nature and are slow to incorporate the advanced security that’s needed to keep their IT infrastructure protected. Much of the Operational Technology (OT) that is integrated with IoT involves legacy equipment that has minimal if any security mechanisms embedded. A risk mitigation strategy is often threadbare, covering OT and IT, but not their integration. There is therefore limited visibility as to the actual number of devices in the network and technology components that are often not updated or synchronized.
Regulation compliance – Security and data privacy regulations are becoming ubiquitous everywhere you turn and are shaping the go-to-market strategies of product vendors in numerous industries. In order to successfully sell your products to companies that need to be compliant, you have to demonstrate how your product will support, and even better, strengthen their existing data protection policies and processes.
Here are a few different pieces of legislation that will influence the way companies will adopt your IoT products in 2022.
- Cyber Shield Bill – A security labeling program for IoT devices that’s long been percolating, resurfaced again in 2021 and is likely to be passed into an Act in 2022. It aims to regulate consumer IoT products directly with a labeling program that sets different benchmarks for IoT device security.
- IoT Improvement Act – Sets forth a number of standards that IoT devices must comply with if they are to be used by a Federal government agency. NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, compiled all 270 requirements for security device identification and protection. While these standards are only applicable to federal agencies, many expect a trickle-down effect, where they will be adopted by private enterprises.
- Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity – Legislation that is primarily focused on the supply chain of IoT devices, for which it dictates a zero-trust architecture. The Executive Order includes criteria that indicate increasingly comprehensive levels of testing and assessment that a product needs to have undergone.
- ISO 27402 – Set of data security and privacy standards that have worldwide applicability. It offers a baseline for IoT security practice that could possibly replace NIST standards for their universal acceptance.
Now, on to the exciting stuff of what to look forward to in 2022.
Cybersecurity as a Feature
While the challenges above may seem intimidating, they can also potentially be a blessing in disguise. By meeting, and even better, exceeding the requirements, device providers can meaningfully differentiate themselves from the competition and build trust for the long run.
A connected product featuring a comprehensive IoT cybersecurity solution, like that provided by Firedome, can provide unmatched device reliability and exceed expectations of quality. An embedded security solution should be able to constantly monitor and protect the device, dynamically eliminating any threats as they arise.
In 2020 we saw a jaw-dropping variety of new types of sensors that can monitor a wide range of situations and events. In 2022, we expect this trend to continue in every industrial sector. For this to happen, sensors will become more affordable and will be bundled in novel ways that support new applications. For example, GST builds connected infrared sensors that detect radiation and heat and are able to transfer their data in real-time for constant monitoring and alert.
Distilling data into meaningful information and actionable insights is the very raison d’etre of IoT. By incorporating Artificial Intelligence the raw bytes of data collected by IoT can be converted into real-time insights, whether that be what is happening on an operation production floor or whether a chemical is reaching its threshold in a treatment plant.
In 2022 we expect to see more IoT product vendors incorporate AI algorithms into their connected devices to enable faster and more scalable growth. The focus will be on demonstrating how their smart products enable their clients to hit targets that others hadn’t even thought of.
Wireless Networking Technologies
In 2022 more IoT devices will be used at the edge, whether that be drones surveying miles of forested land, sprinkler systems used in agriculture, smart grids scattered throughout a city, or the multitude of employees that are all still working from home. All these devices are reliant on technology to make their connection faster, more reliable, and cost-efficient.
In 2022 device providers will be incorporating compatibility with new wireless technologies, particularly 5G, into their devices that are used at the edge, so their customers can reap all the benefits as if they were still enclosed within a network. For example, Altair provides 5G-powered sensors that allow workers on a power plant to respond and troubleshoot an issue from the other side of the world. Those workers could then dispatch a response crew immediately to have the issue resolved efficiently.
While forecasting future events always leaves you open to being proved wrong, it’s safe to say that the IoT technology that was being adopted in 2021 will continue to develop and expand its applications further. Smart device manufacturers are certainly sitting at the helm of exciting times, but to make the most of all the potential they will need to look at the business use cases that their products solve and then search out the right technology stack to enable it. The solution is not a matter of if, but how.