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Forrester predicts what’s next for IoT

News Analysis
Nov 14, 20173 mins
Internet of ThingsSecurity

As the Internet of Things moves from “experimentation to business scale,” research firm Forrester shares its predictions for 2018. Think specialization and cloud — and big security risks.

Internet of things with lock in background
Credit: Thinkstock

What’s in store for the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2018? That’s the question on many people’s minds in the fast-growing IoT industry. One set of answers can be found in a new report from Forrester, called Predictions 2018: IoT Moves From Experimentation To Business Scale

According to Forrester and published reports last week, that journey means many things, but apart from the usual superheated speculation about IoT’s incredible growth and increasing impact, here’s what I think is most interesting. 

IoT specialization takes hold

IoT is likely to become more specialized in the coming year, moving away from generic hardware and software into platforms designed for specific industries. So-called “design and operate’ scenarios” will let IoT developers focus on the attributes that matter most to their own industries and use cases.

That makes sense because as the IoT industry continues to grow, you won’t need to be generic to achieve economies of scale. And IoT customers don’t want the hassle of adapting generic products to their particular needs. 

IoT integration in the cloud — and at the edge

Sure, plenty of enterprises will run and manage their IoT implementations out of their own data centers. But according to the Forrester report, more and more of IoT connectivity and integrations will happen in the cloud. IoT developers want low adoption costs, fast deployments, global reach, easy integration with other systems, and low maintenance. If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for cloud migration, I don’t know what would.

At the same time, however, in an effort to cut costs and trim latency, IoT data processing and analysis will also move from the core to the edge of the network. And those twin trends may pose challenges for cloud providers and IoT users alike.

All this makes sense, too. The cloud is taking market and mindshare away from private data centers in just about every arena, and there’s no reason for IoT to be any different.

IoT security issues may get worse

Rightly or wrongly, of course, IoT integrations in the public cloud are likely to fuel already growing security concerns. And indeed, Forrester predicts even more damaging cyber attacks across a wide swath of IoT implementations. The report is not optimistic about improvements in IoT security, predicting more — and more successful — attacks on IoT devices, as well as the platforms they run on.

Interestingly, IoT cybersecurity also plays a big role in another recent Forrester report. The firm’s 2018 cybersecurity predictions see money-oriented IoT attacks on the rise, taking precedence over attempts to cause damage or sow chaos for political, social or military causes. IoT-targeted ransomware that targets vehicles, point-of-sale machines, and medical equipment is reportedly being explored.

Ultimately, though, the disconnect between IoT and security doesn’t make sense. On the one hand, everyone says the IoT is hurtling forward like a runaway freight train. On the other hand, the same people warn that in many ways, IoT is not ready for prime time and has deep, inherent vulnerabilities. Yet, everyone seems to agree that IoT is a good thing, and no one seems to be interested in slowing down or making the kind of massive investments it’s likely to take to bring real security confidence to the industry.


Fredric Paul is Editor in Chief for New Relic, Inc., and has held senior editorial positions at ReadWrite, InformationWeek, CNET, PCWorld and other publications. His opinions are his own.