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The IoT explosion: 38bn devices to be connected by 2020

Over the past few years, the Internet of Things has gone from theoretical concept to our everyday lived experience. It’s no coincidence that some think we should instead be talking about the Internet of Everything. But despite the advances we’ve made in the past few years, it looks like the real explosion will only happen in the next five years.

According to a new report from Juniper Research, the number of connected devices will grow from 13.4-billion in 2015 to 38.5-billion in 2020, a rise of over 285%.

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Interestingly, the vast bulk of that growth won’t come from the domestic sector but instead will be driven by the industrial and agricultural spaces. According to Juniper Research, this is due to a much stronger business case for these types of applications.

Michelin and John Deere, for example, have successfully transitioned their businesses towards being service based companies through the use of IoT, as opposed to their previous incarnations as product vendors.

Read more: Google, Nest and the Internet of Things: welcome to your future

That said, the average revenue per user in the domestic space is high, meaning that there’s big potential for the market to be tapped.

Early days

While the British research house notes significant growth in the number of connected devices — it says there are already twice as many connected devices as there are people on the planet — it says that for most enterprises, simply connecting their systems and devices remains the first priority.

“We’re still at an early stage for IoT”, says research author Steffen Sorrell. “Knowing what information to gather, and how to integrate that into back office systems remains a huge challenge.”

Read more: What does the Internet of Things mean for your business and your network?

Another obstacle that has to be overcome is interoperability, meaning that different kinds of connected device can’t work together. It does however say there are signs that standards bodies and alliances are beginning to engage to overcome these hurdles.

It’s all in data

According to Juniper Research, the real promise of the Internet of Things isn’t as much in the technology as it is in the potential uses for all the data gathered.

By its reckoning, the Internet of Things “represents the combination of devices and software systems, connected via the Internet, that produce, receive and analyse data. These systems must have the aim of transcending traditional siloed ecosystems of electronic information in order to improve quality of life, efficiency, create value and reduce cost.”

The Internet of Things is therefore as effective as the sum of its parts. Mere connections create data; however, this does not become information until it is gathered, analysed and understood. The analytics back-end systems of the IoT will therefore form the backbone of its long-term success.

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