The Internet of Things entered a new period of growth in the last year in the enterprise market, as companies moved from the testing stage to full deployment, according to Mark Bartolomeo, Vice President, Connected Solutions – Internet of Things, Verizon.
Bartolomeo gave a keynote at the HetNet EXPO in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he addressed the recently released report, “State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017.”
“I have been waiting 15 years to actually write in the report that we are making progress in the adoption of IoT,” said Bartolomeo. “It is something that we have been looking at for many, many years and working through the issues of standards, security, interoperability and cost.”
Manufacturing grew 84 percent, utilities/energy grew 41 percent, transportation grew 40 percent, smart cities grew 19 percent and healthcare grew 11 percent, according to year-over-year Verizon IoT network connections from 2016 to 2017.
“The reason enterprises are moving from their early adopter phase to full deployment is they have a proven business,” he said. “With the improved business cases, we are seeing the small and medium size enterprise begin to deploy.”
Regulatory compliance is a major factor driving IoT. The U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act requires pharmaceutical firms to track the shipments of it drugs.
“Big wireless deployments are underway in the transportation industry to track and trace pharmaceuticals globally to eliminate the $75 billion annual counterfeit drug trade,” Bartolomeo said.
Smart grid technology is moving from the urban centers to rural areas with gas and electric coops deploying 300 million meters to improve their smart energy systems over the next ten years, according to Bartolomeo. For example, Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative and Peninsula Light Company have deployed Verizon’s Grid Wide Utility Solutions, which is an intelligent energy platform.
Even with movement forward, the IoT industry still must overcome certain barriers. For one, the supplier ecosystem is too fragmented.
“How do we align our suppliers?” Bartolomeo said. “The reason IoT was slow to be adopted for smart grid was that the user had to acquire a meter from one company, communications cards from another and a wireless network from another and also hire systems integrators.”
Additionally, security, which is now a number one concern in the public, has been treated as an afterthought in IoT. “There are not enough standards concerning security,” he said. “In the future, artificial intelligence will be used to monitor the devices looking for security issues.”
The other issue that IoT has had is the cost was too high. However, costs have already dropped due to the deployment of CAT-M technology and the virtualization of the core network. For example, tracking the location and temperature of vaccines for a pharmaceutical company used to require a $300 device. That has now dropped in price below $50. Next year it will get down below $30.
“For IoT to grow, we need to be able to track everything, but today’s economics don’t allow that to occur. We are getting there very quickly. Also we are seeing improvements in battery life,” Bartolomeo said.
Another key is standardization. IoT platforms must be able to support heterogeneous networks, all network topologies, all wireless spectrum, whether it is public and private, according to Bartolomeo. Verizon has been very involved in accelerating adoption of 5G IoT standards.
He was confident that the IoT industry can continue its upward. “Lowering the cost will expand the addressable market, a common platform will bring flexible pricing and the ability to monitor a device over any network topology, and security will bring in a lot of companies that were holding back,” he said.