With the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) tech in the enterprise, Forrester released a report on Friday outlining five IoT predictions for 2020. These predictions aim to help CIOs and their organizations maneuver the evolving IoT ecosystem, in which connected products help businesses run more smoothly.

IoT refers to the billions of internet-connected devices that collect and share data. Once these devices are equipped with connectivity, they are referred to as “smart,” which is reflected in smartwatches that read text messages, smart thermostats controlled via a phone app, and smartphones that essentially make the world go round.

SEE: Tech Predictions For 2020: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

However, these connected devices have become even more advanced in recent years, particularly in the industrial sphere. The popularity has grown so much that a new sector of IoT formed, called Industrial IoT (IIoT), which commonly refers to machines and factories filled with connected sensors.

Regardless of the industry, all IoT devices compile data and provide the consumer with helpful information. As IoT devices become even smarter, CIOs and their teams must prepare for the new capabilities, as outlined in Forrester’s Predictions 2020: The Internet of Things report.

The top IoT predictions CIOs must recognize

1. IoT architects will integrate 5G into new designs, but not as a LoWPAN replacement

The past couple years were filled with hype surrounding 5G mobile networks, with its promises of high speeds and low latency. While 2019 has seen the beginning of 5G capabilities, 2020 will bring 5G from rumor to reality, the report found.

Before 5G capabilities, many IoT devices transmitted data using low power wireless personal area networking (LoWPAN) technologies, according to the report. LoWPAN, also known as 6LoWPAN, is a wireless mesh network in which every node holds its own IPv6 address. The nodes connect directly with the Internet using open standards, allowing devices to communicate in a cost-effective manner over a low-power wireless network, as noted in an Android Developers Guide.

As 5G becomes more popular, it won’t replace existing LoWPAN networks, but actually augment them, the report found. This means that many industries will continue using LoWPAN technologies, but use 5G solutions to backhaul information, passing data to telecommunications networks en route to destinations like the cloud, said Frank Gillett, author of the report and principal analyst serving CIO professionals at Forrester.

SEE: Special report: Sensor’d enterprise: IoT, ML, and big data (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

2. Consumers will embrace smart speaker displays, driving the rise of multimodal design

Smart speaker displays first surfaced with the Echo Show in 2017, adding a face to the Alexa digital assistant. These smart displays have come a long way, with products including the Google Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Show 5, and Lenovo Smart Display.

This category is predicted to boom in 2020, expanding from consumer devices to enterprise device adoption. One of the most popular enterprise solutions will be in conference room management solutions, allowing teams to interact with remote users. However, as the technology develops, it will shift more toward a multimodal design, giving equal importance to voice, display, and touch, the report found.

The software will become smarter, leading developers to create software that enables smart displays to adapt to different situations, Gillett said. “The devices will be able to soak up the context and understand situations, for example, is someone distracted because there’s another person in the room or because they’re in a conversation? Do they have full attention? Are they even looking at [the device]? Should the video be paused because they looked away?”

As smart displays proliferate, the software design will become even more intelligent, he said.

3. Cybercriminals will target an IoT device for ransom — from the device manufacturer

While IoT devices provide a bevy of benefits, the increase in devices creates more threat vectors for cybercriminals to exploit. “IoT is the cause of the vulnerability,” Gillett said. “If these products weren’t connected, then the crooks couldn’t get in there and try to mess with the connection or the electronics.”

In 2020, attackers will target both consumer and enterprise IoT devices for ransom, the report found. This means cybercriminals could attempt to exploit regular customers and device manufacturers.

To prevent attackers from taking advantage of IoT devices, designers must work closely with security teams in the company or hire experts that can integrate risk-mitigating techniques, Gillett said.

“Companies also need to put in place remediation plans for what to do when someone begins to attack them or actually succeeds,” he said. “How do they minimize? How do they detect and prevent? How do they detect and recover? You have to nail everything down, and then have a disaster plan.”

4. Connected trucks will use IoT to catalyze logistics and supply chain transformation

IoT will create more efficient logistics in trucking and more effective processes in the supply chain.

In the trucking sector, IoT will forge better insights into what trucks are carrying, preventing less deadheading, or trucks carrying around empty loads, Gillett said.

“There’ll be more communications and better visibility to who’s got capacity where and when,” he said. “That can mean getting stuff through faster, as well as cheaper. Better visibility can prevent damage or loss, as well as minimizing the impact.”

IoT will also pave the way for increased truck driver assistance, or technology that helps truck drivers notice if they are becoming drowsy or inattentive, Gillett said. While fully self-driving trucks won’t be in the cards for 2020, movement toward self-driving technology on the highway will progress next year, he said.

The ideas of IoT promoting efficiency and safety will also transfer over into the supply chain. In warehouses, IoT devices will be used to safely operate machinery and move heavy items around on automated carts, the report said.

IoT tech will also help improve the customer experience by looking at “who has the most number of widgets and how close are they to where the customers are that want them? In terms of the supply chain, we’ll be able to do more with less, not even just people, but energy and even less inventory. That is less having to keep and hold extra widgets just in case you need them in different parts of the country,” Gillett said.

5. A major vendors shift will occur from connected products to a connected services ecosystem

Many large companies that offer connected products will convert to services built on an IoT data system. Examples of these companies span both consumer products and B2B organizations, the report found.

Both Amazon and Apple offer connected devices and services, so it’s only a matter of time before they introduce premium plans that put both components together in a bundle, Gillett said.

For example, Amazon Prime Premium service could extend to include a set of Echo smart speakers, the report said.

On the B2B side, Gillett also mentioned Schneider Electric, which could potentially sell electric power management at a flat monthly fee that includes the power management equipment, conservation upgrades, and local utility electricity.

The year 2020 will be a crucial time for IoT, with more use cases and widespread deployment filling shelves and lives.

For more, check out Top 5 ways organizations can secure their IoT devices on TechRepublic.

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