Solution providers need to get prepared to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity stemming from the oncoming Internet of Things avalanche.
That's the word from Stephan DiFranco, principle at the IoT Advisory Group, a San Mateo, Calif.-based consulting firm, to an audience of solution providers at this week's NextGen 2017 Conference & Technology Expo in Los Angeles.
DiFranco, who prior to founding the IoT Advisory Group held IoT executive positions at Cypress Semiconductor and Broadcom, said that between smart phones, PCs and tablets, the world has in the last 30 years deployed about 10 billion connected devices. That, however, that is only the beginning, he said.
"In my conservative estimate, there will be 10 billion new connected devices in the next five years," he said. "So it took 30 years to get to 10 billion devices, and now it will take five years to get to the next 10 billion devices. This is the largest change in the IT industry in years."
On the consumer side, DiFranco said devices featuring artificial intelligence will allow easy connection of multiple devices in the home. "My prediction is, the home hub will be Google Home or Amazon Echo," he said. "That will be the critical way you connect in the home. You will never have to press a button at home."
On the commercial side, DiFranco estimated there would be 4.4 billion devices in play by 2020, of which 3.2 billion will be vertical-specific devices. For instance, he said, a hospital might have 10,000 connected devices. "And people there have no clue about what devices they have and what they do," he said.
Early IoT adopters will likely be in the manufacturing and logistics, retail and point of sales, and hospital and extended care industries, DiFranco said.
"Why these three?" he said. "These are three industries that already have deployed devices in their old model. And they need to get the data from their devices. These industries use data, and are data driven."
DiFranco divided the IoT industry into five task-areas. Three of those tasks--data collection, the cloud platforms on which IoT applications are run, and the data analysis--will be done by such companies as Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, he said.
However, the system design and the integration of the connected devices will be treated like IT projects are handled today, he said. "Someone has to go into the hospitals and other places," he said. "This will be the biggest part of the industry. And there is no single company that will do this. We feel the IT VARs will become the IoT VARs."