The Rise Of The Sensornet: 4.9BN Connected Things In 2015, Says Gartner

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Gartner is predicting a 30 per cent jump in the number of connected objects in use in the wild from this year to next as sensing connected devices proliferate in an Internet of Things (IoT). In a forecast put out today, the analyst predicts there will be 4.9 billion connected things in use in 2015, up from 3.8 billion this year.

The boom in connected sensing devices will gather pace, with the analyst predicting some 25 billion smart devices in circulation come 2020. In other words, hold onto your breath-sensing seats.

For a little comparative context on the figures, annual smartphone shipments topped 1 billion for the first time at the start of this year, based on IDC’s numbers. Connected things can of course scale much faster than smartphones, being far less complex and having a fraction of the per unit cost.

Gartner expects the automotive sector to see the highest growth rate of installed IoT units in 2015, pegged at 96 per cent, outstripping business and consumer sector growth.


The industry verticals driving the IoT next year with the most connected things in use will be manufacturing, utilities and transportation, according to Gartner, which reckons they will collectively have 736 million connected things in use.

By 2020 the mix will shift, with utilities topping the list (thanks to investments in smart meters), followed by manufacturing and then government in third place, comprising a total of 1.7 billion IoT units installed. Government rises up the list thanks to predicted investments in smart street and area lighting for energy reduction purposes.

Gartner characterizes the Internet of Things as a risk to many existing businesses, combined with other digital accelerators such as cloud, mobile and social, and argues that companies will therefore be driven to adopt connected devices, as they were forced to accept the consumerization of IT.

Within the next few years it reckons some level of built-in intelligence and connectivity will be regarded as standard — and will rapidly filter down to mainstream products and services, creating new business models and value propositions. So either a threat or an opportunity, depending on your view.

Startups building connected devices are already in abundant supply, boosted by rapid prototyping technologies such as 3D printing and access to crowdfunding to turn a concept into a shipping product at relatively low cost. But this is just the vanguard of the sensornet.

Security in the spotlight

Another area set for change as a result of the rise of the IoT is security. Gartner notes how connected devices highlight what it dubs the “tight linkages” between information security, IT security, operational tech security and physical security “like never before”.

It argues this means enterprises will be faced with executive decisions about the ownership of security within the business — so who governs, manages and operates it. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2017 more than a fifth of organizations will have digital security services devoted to protecting business initiatives using devices and services in IoT.

It adds:

The IoT will bring into the digital security architecture dozens of new platform options, hundreds of variations on hybrid IT/IoT integration, new standards per industry, and a new view of an application. IT leaders will have to accommodate the differences in technologies across those areas and develop a multifaceted technology approach to IoT risk and security. In addition, with some machines producing enormous amounts of data and other sensors sending a handful of bits per day or week, IT leaders will need to balance digital business requirements with digital security realities.