By Satyajit Sinha
IoT is in a continuous state of evolution and its definition is also shifting. In 2019, IoT is defined as: Connecting smart devices to the internet/cloud for transmission of data either from sensors or to actuators which can be monetized directly or indirectly within a secure zone, leading to an innovative solution most often with the help of post analysis transmitted data. The solution needs to either save human time or create ease of life. Furthermore, both AI and edge computing are rapidly intersecting with IoT and by the end of 2019, both will be an integral part of the definition of IoT.
The following are the top 10 trends and prediction expected in 2019:
- Cloud to Edge: Edge Computing and AI will complement each other to dominate in IoT. Local data processing or Edge computing will start to become a necessity in most of the mission-critical applications. Hence, we will witness a transition from smart devices to Intelligent devices. Furthermore, quick autonomous informed action will drive edge intelligence and smooth the transition from cloud computing to edge computing.
- Security Measures: 2018 was the year of realisation for all the players in the IoT ecosystem including consumers, that security cannot be neglected, especially for the devices which gathers and stores your personal life data. Both data security and data Privacy will take centre stage in 2019. After GDPR, we expect US will also come up with a unified regulation for citizen data protection along with India’s IDPR. In 2019, we will witness a significant increase in investment and capital expenses on securing IoT product, platform, cloud and services.
- Smart City Applications: For most cities, a true smart city is a bit far-fetched and it will not be that easy to achieve in a year. Smart cities are not just an IoT solution, they are more of an overarching solution that bundles various elements such as an ecosystem to manage traffic flows that combines, air quality monitoring, traffic management, smart parking, public mass transit, smart healthcare, smart surveillance and more. Hence, with one step at a time, these individual sub-applications that contribute to smart city applications can be achieved and are a more realistically achievable goal than combining many disparate elements often managed by different administrative agencies.
- NB-IoT and LTE-M Base Applications: The cellular LPWA will be in hyper-growth mode especially for NB-IoT. Smart Meters will transition from non-cellular-based meters to standalone cellular LPWA meters. Smart Parking will get more room to grow, especially after the full-scale deployment of both NB-IoT and LTE-M.
- Consumer IoT: Consumer IoT is still largely an untapped opportunity for cellular operators and probably the toughest one. This is partly due to device and connectivity costs and, to some degree, due to data privacy & security concerns. The continuous growth in security and data privacy policies, such as GDPR, will help and grow consumer confidence. Most operators have a more robust package of services for the business sector, but this has not, yet, translated into the consumer sector. In 2019 we expect more bundles of offering of various consumer products and services from operators, especially for smart home products.
- NB-IoT SoC: IoT System-on-chip (SoC)/System-in-package (SiP), where the MCU is integrated with modem/baseband will be the next wave of IoT evolution and it will change the dynamics of the IoT module market. This is mainly driven by semiconductor players like Huawei, GCT, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Sequans, Nordic, Altair, etc. Players like Huawei are looking to drive NB-IoT SoCs to sub-dollar price points for example with its Boudica series.
- IoT Cellular Module: The industry is moving towards intelligent /smart modules always securely connected to the cloud, leveraging cloud computing. However, we will also see the increasing adoption of intelligence at the edge which is at the module level, leveraging AI-driven edge computing capabilities. This edge computing is driven by top cloud computing players such as Google, Microsoft, Amazon, FogHorn, and others closely working with a number of semiconductor and module vendors such as ST-Micro, NXP, Qualcomm, silicon-labs, USI, etc.
- IoT Cellular Connectivity: According to Counterpoint’s IoT (Internet of Things) service, Global IoT Cellular Connections will reach 1.6 Billion by the end of 2019. In 2018, we saw some of the cellular LPWA applications deployments adopting either LTE-M or NB-IoT depending on geography and respective operators’ LPWA network strategy. This will accelerate as some of the western operators which deployed LTE-M initially are now adding NB-IoT to their IoT network strategy roadmap. China will continue to lead global IoT cellular connections. Vodafone will be the largest operator outside China and AT&T will continue to lead the US in IoT cellular connections. However, connectivity represents only 12% of IoT value chain revenue and ARPU on the legacy and LPWA technologies are declining.
- IoT Bundling of Product and Services: Every major player in the IoT ecosystem is aiming to be an end-to-end product and services provider, as revenue generation from the IoT ecosystem is fragmented across the value chain. Hence, IoT players are looking to capture maximum value by bundling IoT devices, secure connectivity, platform, and data management to capitalize on the overall opportunity. This is appealing to IoT users – enterprise or consumer – that may not have the expertise to stitch the disparate elements together and are willing to pay for an integrated solution. Telecom operators such as Vodafone, AT&T, and China Mobile are adopting this strategy as are various system integrators.
- Emerging Country Adopting Cellular LPWA IoT: Emerging markets like India, Brazil and in Africa can offer tremendous scale but will likely be late followers compared to China in the path to connected everything. However, the massive growth opportunity remains in terms of cellular-IoT connections in emerging markets, which will be possibly catalysed by operators such as Jio in India, but more specifically from multi-market players such as Telefonica, MTN or Vodafone with plans to deploy LPWAN networks such as NB-IoT leveraging scale across their coverage markets. 2019, may not be the year of full-scale nationwide deployment, but it will be the stepping stone for these countries.