10 predictions: The future of the Internet of Things in Singapore

The world is on the cusp of another transformative technology revolution, where in the words of WIRED magazine:“the most mundane items in our lives can talk wirelessly among themselves, performing tasks on command, giving us data we’ve never had before”. The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution will see up to 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020 – the equivalent of 6 devices for every person on the planet.

Singapore has recognised the potential of IoT and is in the process of harnessing its capabilities to become the world’s first Smart Nation. Initiatives include the creation of smart homes, where the collection and analysis of data will help optimise energy consumption, litter collection and parking availability, as well as Smart Mobility, which will help Singaporeans plan their commute better. To this end, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) recently announced that the government will call for an estimated S$2.2 billion worth ofICT tenders this year, of which Smart Nation initiatives will be a key focus area. IoT provides tremendous opportunities for businesses to bring innovative solutions to the market andtransform their own operations.

Either way, businesses in Singapore should pay close attention to what the future holds for IoT. Here are ten predictions for things to look out for:

  1. Security takes top priorityCyber-attacks cost companies US$400 billion every year and Singapore is no safer from attacks than any other country. News recently emerged that Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) IT systems suffered a breach last year and the government sent a strong message with the launch of the Cyber Security Agency earlier this year. Although IoT offers the potential to revolutionise the way we work, live and play, 50 billion connected devices also means 50 billion different possible points of attack for hackers. Enterprises and governments are looking for robust security solutions to ensure that their systems, data, business partners, customers and citizens are safe, and will increasingly look to providers that inspire trust in their products through its policies, processes, supply chain, partners, as well as a transparent and open company culture.
  2. IoT will force business transformation – Businesses that were connected to the Internet saw the real value when they re-designed their businesses models and processes for a connected world, and found new online products and services to offer. Some companies immediately embraced the Dot-Com world, while many had false starts or took a long time to jump on, or the revolution just passed them by completely. The same will be true of IoT. Businesses need to develop strategies and plans for how they can leverage IoT to transform all aspects of their businesses and capture the real value of this revolutionary technology.
  3. The platform is the key to success – The “things” will get increasingly cheaper, applications will multiply and connectivity will cost pennies. The real value will be created in the horizontal platform that ties it all together – the new OS. This platform will be composed of 3 different layers: management, infrastructure, data analytics and insights.
  4. Both consumers and enterprises will be increasingly concerned about data privacy and security – When people, processes, data and things are connected, there is an incredible opportunity to change lives, create new revenue streams, compete with disruptive competitors, deliver better experiences and use new operating models to drive efficiency and value. However, with the incredible amount of data being shared between devices, it will become a mandatory skill for both consumers and enterprises to pay attention to what kind of data is being shared, where it is being sent to and how it is being transmitted.
  5. The industry will look completely different than it does today – Like in the early days of the Internet, IoT is a greenfield market. New players, with new business models, approaches and solutions can appear out of nowhere and overtake incumbents.
  6. Business is the key market – While there is a lot of talk about wearables, the real value and immediate market for IoT is with businesses and enterprises. The adoption of IoT will be much more like the traditional IT diffusion model (businesses to consumers) than the consumer-led adoption of social media and personal mobility.
  7. It will be about much more than the “things” – The currency of IoT will be “data”. But, this new currency only has value if the masses of data can be translated into insights and information which can be converted into concrete actions that will transform businesses, change people’s lives and effect social change.
  8. The “Connected Car” will be all about the car – There is currently a lot of hype about turning your car into a mobile entertainment centre – music, video, social media and all of the apps that we currently enjoy on our smartphones. However, the real value and transformation is in connecting the car operations (e.g., service updates, advanced notifications of failures) and drastically improving safety (e.g., inter-car communications, semi-autonomous driving). These services will most likely be paid for by the manufacturer or through new, alternative business models, rather than directly by the driver. With Singapore’s dense car population as well as relatively short travel times in comparison to other countries, these are the features that will differentiate car models and manufacturers.
  9. There will be a battle for IoT application mindshare – With billions of devices projected to be spewing out petabytes of data, application developers will have a field day launching thousands, or even millions, of new and cool apps. But, like the smartphone world, all of these apps will be fighting for mindshare and only a few will rise to the top to be valued by businesses and consumers.
  10. IoT will cease to exist – Terms like “eCommerce”, “the Net” and “WWW” are all quaint reminders of how the Internet has ceased to be an exciting and mysterious new thing, and like electricity, is now just a part of our daily lives. The Internet of Things will go the same way. One day and soon enough, it will be hard to imagine that all things weren’t connected and that the extraordinary benefits of IoT hadn’t always been with us.

Ang Thiam Guan is Managing Director, Singapore & Brunei, Cisco