#IoT & #Industry 4.0 Trends in 2019: What lies ahead?

At the dawn of 2019, I thought I had better share with you my views thoughts about what will be the trends of 2019 in IT, IoT and the digitization of Industry, across six different areas/topics.

1. Internet of Things (IoT) (and Industrial Internet of Things)

In 2019 we will see an intensified shift of IoT systems towards more decentralised architectures that involve smart objects such as drones autonomous guided vehicles and various forms of robots. We will start forgetting the legacy deployments of thousands of passive devices integrated in a cloud, as IoT deployments will now include distributed connected objects with autonomous behaviours as well. Needless to say, I expect such deployments to take place in the industrial (i.e. IIoT) space (e.g., in factories, energy plants and oil refineries) much more than in the consumer space.

2. Mobile Edge Computing (MEC)

The edge computing paradigm is already acknowledged as the prevalent architectural and deployment option for #IIoT systems. In 2019, I expect edge computing deployments to be enhanced with mobility support leveraging on standards such as ETSI Mobile Edge Computing. MEC will enable the support of more complex IoT/IIoT scenarios involves coordination of smart objects, objects’ mobility in volatile environments with fast hand-overs and more. Some of these functionalities will be supported by 5G in the coming years, but mobile operators, cloud providers and application developers could leverage some of them today through MEC. I also expect application developers to take advantage of microservices, DevOps and continuous integration when developing their MEC applications. As part of MEC deployments, we will also see data-intensive, real-time and ultra-low latency applications at edge proliferating. This will in several cases enable AI within edge devices and micro data centres as well.

3. Artificial Intelligence (in Industry 4.0)

Well it’s the buzzwords of the last two years and it will continue to play a significant role in 2019. I am sure that IT giants (e.g., Google, Microsoft, Apple etc.) will make significant steps in collecting more data and improving their algorithms. However, this will be also the case for the rest of us working on the field. For example, Industry 4.0 enterprises will have in 2019 more data to work with, following the deployment of automated data collection systems in their plants. Likewise, at the level of the algorithms, deep learning techniques will continue to be popular, but more complex models will start to be deployed in practice, based on combination of supervised and unsupervised learning models on larger datasets, which will include deep neural networks as part of them. In this IIoT/Industry4.0 space, such models will be used in predictive maintenance and digital twins applications, in order to provide advanced capabilities for modelling complex industrial processes.

4. Blockchain (and Blockchains for Industry 4.0)

During the last couple of years there has been a lot of hype around blockchain technologies. Even though numerous projects and start-ups have developed solutions, the sole deployments of blockchains at scale are still found in cryptocurrencies (notably BitCoin and Ethereum). 2019 will be a year of reality for the applications of blockchain, especially applications beyond cryptocurrencies. Companies will start positioning distributed ledger technologies in their strategy based on what blockchain can and cannot do. For industrial applications permissioned blockchains are likely to be deployed in use cases where they could actually offer benefits (e.g., supply chain data sharing). Relevant deployments will be based on permissioned blockchain infrastructures like Corda, Hyperledger Fabric and Quorum/Ethereum, which offer privacy and performance benefits over the mainstream public blockchains.

5. Immersive Interfaces and User Experience

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will be increasingly considered in the scope of industrial deployments in 2019. This will be due to: (A) The improved maturity of AR/VR systems and use cases in areas such as remote maintenance, worker safety and employees re-skilling; (B) The better understanding of the value and ROI (Return on Investment) potential of such use cases by the business management; (C) The falling cost of AR/VR equipment, which will reinforce their economic viability.

6. OT and IT Security Integration (Physical + Cyber Security)

In the scope of IIoT, security deployments have to compromise the conflicting requirements of IT and OT. Even though this is well known and addressed in frameworks like the Industrial Internet Security Framework (IISF) of the Industrial Internet Consortium, cyber security and physical security remain fragmented, both from the technical and from the business viewpoint. In 2019 we will see technical and organisational steps towards this convergence, including integrated security platforms and new integrated security processes. Physical security and cyber security will start providing a single, but stronger line of defence against security attacks.

Other IT trends in computing, storage, BigData and more will also drive the above-listed trends, but their discussion is beyond the scope of this post. During the year, I will try to follow-up on the above predictions based on separate posts and articles. Stay tuned for this and in the meantime enjoy your first days of the new year! Happy 2019!