2022 will be the year of convergence between edge, IoT and networking tech, Forrester predicts

IoT tech will help reduce emissions, satellite internet will challenge 5G, the chip shortage will continue and more will happen in 2022 as pandemic recovery continues to move slowly forward.

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Forrester has released a set of five predictions for the IoT, edge computing and networking markets in 2022 that are based on "specific, observable changes" to those industries. 

Several of the predictions it makes are ones that have the potential to shape not only the IoT, edge and networking industries, but any sort of business touched by these technologies. That's nearly everyone, as it turns out. 

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In brief, the five predictions spell out how edge and IoT will make supply chains more sustainable, that satellite internet may have finally reached a maturity level to compete with 5G, that the chip shortage will continue to be felt, that smart infrastructure investment will increase and that a record-setting IoT botnet attack is looming on the horizon. 

It's hard to think of a business (or even a person) who won't be affected on some level by those predictions, regardless of whether or not they come true. These predictions don't mean that tech will start emerging that's able to do these things, either. Report author and Forrester analyst Abhijit Sunil says that much of the tech emerging from these predictions will be widely, practically available. 

"The union of IoT, edge and networking technology will make some real results possible in the market," Sunil said. 

Edge and IoT combine to reduce emissions

If you haven't heard of scope 3 emissions, that's understandable: They're the carbon emissions and other pollution created as a side effect of a business's operations by assets they don't own or control. Think third-party freight, supply chain processes, and other things that happen between raw materials and finished goods that are performed by another company. 

"In 2022, demand for sustainability-related services powered by edge and IoT will grow for energy efficiency and resource management," Forrester said. Particular use cases for technology like this will be environmental monitoring, resource management and supply chain processes. 

Products that use IoT and edge computing to help reduce scope 3 emissions will be brought to market in 2022 by companies like "Traditional smart-technology product vendors, IT and professional services playersand platform vendors that specialize in edge and IoT," Forrester said. 

"Sustainability is a great example where the capabilities that emerging technologies like edge powered AI engines will bring meaningful implementations," Sunil said. 

Satellite internet will rise as a challenge to 5G

"Government red tape and delays in developing 5G have opened the door for the satellite internet market," Forrester said. Rural areas, in particular, have been promised boosts from 5G that have been slow to arrive, which Forrester said will be a boon for both wired connectivity providers and satellite internet companies like Starlink

"Some telecoms [that don't offer cellular service] are testing satellite service as a backup instead of using their competitor's cellular service. It will be a dominating force especially in rural areas where there is no potential for 5G implementations in the near future," said Sunil. 

Forrester predicts that 85% of satellite internet users will be in rural locations. If accurate, companies offering wireless 5G internet or mmWave service for edge access will need to step up their game in 2022 or risk becoming the DSL of remote wireless internet service: Good enough, but not as good as the competition.

The chip shortage will slow IoT market growth

Forrester has predicted a long-lasting chip shortage before, and they're doing so again, warning that it won't abate until mid-2023 at this point, which will leave a lot of smart product manufacturers, and the consumers that want those products, left in the lurch. 

IoT products use more mature sensors, microcontrollers and communication technology, Forrester said, which puts them in a different position than less complex chips like CPUs and GPUs, which may return to availability earlier. 

"IoT-based smart products like appliances, automobiles and consumer electronics will be unavailable, delayed or overpriced," Forrester said, which will slow IoT product growth in 2022 by 10% to 15%, which will in turn lead to more demand for less-smart products.

Smart infrastructure investment will increase 

A huge boom in smart infrastructure is predicted for 2022, with investment expected to increase by 40%, largely driven by investment in China, the E.U. and the U.S., Forrester said. Much of that spending will be toward the goal of alleviating pandemic stresses and facility recovery, with Forrester saying that internet connectivity, public health initiatives and critical resource management will all be met with renewed interest.

"Stakeholders will also harness insights captured from edge devices and IoT-enabled infrastructure to modify traffic patterns to reduce congestion; evaluate multimedia data to deliver insight for security applications; and combine 5G, V2X and edge technologies to enable autonomous vehicles in ports and airports," Forrester said. 

A new, record-setting IoT botnet will rise

Weak IoT device security continues to be a plague on the internet, and Forrester said 2022 will bring with it a botnet so large that its "level of traffic will successfully cause economic pain by denying some critical communications infrastructure." How big, Forrester said, is somewhere north of 30 million requests per second. For reference, the current record set earlier in 2021 capped out at 22 million requests per second. 

Consider this last prediction to be your cybersecurity kick-in-the-pants for 2022: start prepping your DDoS mitigation strategy and response plans now, because it's going to be a wild ride. 

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If some of these predictions seem far-fetched, it's understandable: Forrester is making some big claims for 2022. Luckily, Forrester also keeps a record of its previous predictions alongside end-of-year reevaluations so you can judge for yourself how well they do.

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