Embrace Digital Disruption
The Internet of Things (IoT) is probably the most important technology trend affecting businesses today. But, how did it come about? And more importantly, what can you do about it?
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
As I touched on in my last post, IoT presents a tremendous opportunity for engineering consultancies. But, what is driving its momentum? A number of significant technology changes and enablers have come together to give rise to this trend.
Cloud Computing. The Global Cloud Computing market is expected to skyrocket over the next four years, from $40.7 billion USD in 2011 to $241 billion USD in 2020 (Forrester). This Cloud movement, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, is being fueled by rapidly falling processing costs and increasing cloud accessibility.
Declining Technology Costs. Sensors – used in IoT technology to identify, locate, and evaluate items – are decreasing in price. The cost of sensors went from $1.30 USD to just $0.60 USD over the past 10 years (Goldman Sachs). What’s more, the cost of bandwidth is down by a factor of 40 times over the past 10 years. (Goldman Sachs).
Smartphone Usage. Smartphones are a key player in IoT, serving as a personal gateway to this technology. In 2009, less than 1% of global internet traffic came from mobile devices. As of August 2016, mobile internet traffic soared to an impressive 46% of total internet traffic worldwide (StatCounter Global Stats). That’s an increase of over 5000%!
Expanding Wireless Coverage. The development of faster, higher bandwidth and more intelligent networks is leading to an explosion in mobile technology adoption. By 2020, nearly 60% of mobile devices and connections will have 4G capability in North America, according to Cisco. Western Europe is just behind North America, with a ratio of 53% of 4G connections by 2020.
WHAT WILL THE IOT ECONOMY CREATE?
With billions of new mobile devices and connections being introduced each year, we are already seeing an influx in both personal and business data. Imagine this: five billion gigabytes (GB) of data were created from the beginning of time to 2003. That sounds like a lot of data, right?
Well, that same amount of data was created every two days in 2011. And by 2013, it took only 10 minutes. (Big Data, Small World). This phenomenon, commonly known as Big Data, presents a challenge to traditional data processing applications, that will likely have difficulty processing data so large and complex. In order to sustain the amount of data a firm may produce, processing applications and technologies will need to be re-evaluated, or new ones created.
And with the proliferation of devices connected to the internet comes security vulnerabilities. More connected devices mean more attack vectors and possibilities for hackers to target infrastructure and our personal information (Ben Dickson Crunch Network). Firms will need to evaluate their current security protocols to insure they are shielded from such cyberattacks.
It’s clear to see – a new digital economy is upon us and ready to disrupt the engineering industry as we know it today. This hotbed of opportunity will invite new competitors from outside the traditional architecture and engineering industry to enter our world, bringing unparalleled competence in the Cloud, Big Data, Security, and IoT.
Imagine powerhouses like Google, IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, or Apple marrying their technological expertise with the infrastructure prowess of traditional engineering consultancies to reshape our cities and infrastructure.
There is a bold future ahead of us, and the impact of these changes will be far-reaching and profound. Ask yourself: what can you do to begin preparing for this transformative digital economy? What technology skill sets can you leverage, acquire, or partner with to position your consultancy for an IoT economy?
It’s time to seize the opportunity.
Author’s Notes: This is the fourth post in a series on major trends affecting the architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting industry. A version of this post titled "Digitale Disruptie" appeared in Dutch in a Witteveen+Bos publication.