Thanks to WRAL Techwire for publishing our take on the top 5 IoT things to watch for in 2017.


Eighteen months ago, the Internet of Things sat atop the Gartner Hype Cycle, the technology research firm’s famous forecast of all things technology. The term remains a buzzword – heralded as the 4th Industrial Revolution and New Data Economy. In 2016, evidence began to emerge that demonstrated the hype becoming real.  RIoT looks at five important areas to watch in 2017.

1) Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms will become more prevalent for IoT.

These tools are necessary to derive value from larger and larger data sets, that are so complex, it is impossible for data scientists to individually review and hypothesize every potential correlation. Big data analytics costs are approaching zero. The cost to sequence the genome is down from $100M 15 years ago to a few hundred dollars today. Similarly sized data sets are becoming routine to work with. Coupling low cost computational power with the maturing AI field will lead to early breakthroughs this year and be mainstream practice by 2018.

2) Security will continue to be a hot topic, in some cases slowing companies from jumping full force into IoT.

There are many competing IoT platforms emerging, along with nearly 20 competing wireless protocols for connecting devices to each other and to the cloud. The wild west had no shortage of drama as it was tamed and we can expect the same for IoT. The business model and technical standards landscapes are still years from converging. Despite that there will be more hacks like the recent DDoS attack on Dyn that was orchestrated in part through connected baby monitors, the top companies will push forward with haste. Security should be seen as a business an opportunity, not a threat. Companies that tackle the challenge head on will win.  Look for established companies to begin offering certifications and verification tools to their clients that in turn, build consumer trust.

3) There will be major investment in educating the IoT workforce.

As every company had to add an IT department with the rise of the internet, many firms will begin seeking Operational Technology (OT) professionals. The plumber who’s business thrived off a Yellow Pages add in the 90’s needed a website to stay in business by 2000. That same business will need the expertise to connect leak-detecting pipes for each new repair and installation in the near future.  The first step is education.  North Carolina has been discussing this in depth during 2016 and expect to see content begin to be delivered across high schools, universities, code schools and community colleges this year.  Savvy entrepreneurs will shortcut traditional paths and leverage the incredibly powerful online communities of free learning resources. Nearly all job types will need a basic level of IoT competence in the next few years.

4) Small data will emerge as a new buzzword.

For reasons ranging from lack of end-to-end operability, need for data security, or simple uncertainty in what to do with all that collected data, companies will more deeply explore building applications at the network edge. Edge analytics will provide tremendous value and the market will start to understand that Big Data derives its value first from Small Data collected at the sensor nodes. Healthcare is one market that will begin to really embrace small data — decision-making at the body, in real-time, with little or no raw data storage or communication to protect privacy.

5) The timing is perfect to start an IoT hardware company.

Recent years of VC activity were dominated by SaaS investments. This is in large part due to the low capital investment needed to start an “app company”. Just a few years ago, the price of hardware required to develop a minimally viable hardware prototype to show investors and early customers was a six figure investment.  Now, that same prototype can often be built and demonstrated for under $100 in electronics, and housed in Industrial Design quality 3D printed packaging overnight.  Coupled with engaged developer communities and thriving coworking spaces, anyone can compete with established big corporations in the hardware space.

RIoT in 2017

With these focus areas in mind, RIoT is really excited to be rolling out new events and content in 2017. We kick off with a RIoT on Security on January 24th in Durham. Speakers from around the country are flying in to help you understand how to protect your edge device, the data communication layer and cloud aggregation.

We’re also excited to be launching RIoT Labs this month in downtown Raleigh, with the support of NC IDEA, NC State University and HQ Raleigh. The engineering lab will provide access to start-ups across the region to build their connected device prototypes, suitable for that first customer or investor meeting. We will offer mentoring to companies that work from office space at the lab and technical and business experts will teach workshops from one end to the other of the Internet of Things (IoT) stack.  And we’ll continue to offer our popular MBA in IoT and Developer Day educational courses.

If you’re not local to the Triangle, do not fret. Our first state-wide event will be simulcast Feb. 28th, with opportunity for start-ups to win $38k in prize money from NCNGN and US Ignite to develop applications for gigabit networks. And we’ll be holding RIoTs in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina in Q1.

Gartner may show IoT hype dropping from its 2016 peak, but here in North Carolina, RIoT sees an engaged community, seizing the opportunity. We are excited to be a part of this region’s success and look forward to hearing your own predictions for 2017.