Awards season is upon us. Last week I was handing out one of the World Communications Awards to Aptilo. This week I am settling in to review the entries for the IoT Global Awards, which covers all aspects of the Internet of Things world.
Some might think that the overwhelming motivation for me is the Oscars-like glamour that rubs off as a result of being involved with judging prestigious awards like these! But in reality it’s an excellent opportunity to reflect on a wide range of leading-edge solutions in IoT in a concentrated space of time. As such it’s a great way to take a gauge of what’s particularly hot in IoT at the moment, and how the market has changed in the last 12 months.
The first category in the IoT Global Awards is particularly noteworthy, or rather the entrants are. It’s the Automotive, Transport & Travel category. It’s no secret how some key players in the IoT (mobile operators and cellular device vendors particularly) love the opportunity presented by the auto sector. But this year it’s a bit different. Thanks to chip shortages, a sluggish car market and more working from home, the innovation has been less in cars and much more in supply chain, i.e. the thing that has been stress tested to the extreme in the last 18 months. We see lots of fleet management solutions, e.g. from TCS and Verizon, and asset tracking solutions from the likes of Controlant and PowerFleet. Here IoT has really stepped up.
The second area that has been majorly changed by COVID is manufacturing. The requirement for working with a skeleton crew, or to onshore more production, has led to a growing demand for factory automation and associated solutions. In particular in workflow automation (as illustrated by Inauro) and with the growth of 5G private networks (which is what Transatel’s entry covered). In a way it’s surprising that this shortlist wasn’t dominated by 5G mobile private network entries, such has been the interest. It’s a testament to the sophistication of some of the other solutions, particularly those using AI, such as TCS and Symphony Industrial AI.
All of the vertical categories have been affected in some way by lockdown. Retail has been severely disrupted, as has healthcare, and there is increasing focus on improving the quality of the built environment both in the short-term while lockdown restrictions persist and in the long-term to ensure that homes, office and cities are increasingly liveable.
Security has always been the #1 concern of anyone deploying IoT, and today as IoT becomes more widespread across increasingly critical systems, it’s no surprise that the security category is so strongly contested. In particular we see an overriding demand for a more integrated approach to security, policy management, routing and data flow as a new platform layer for IoT deployments beyond just the simple connectivity and device management. Many of the candidates in this category, such as Kigen and Armis/Eseye, clearly share our view that this is a critical thing, with security of global deployments at its heart.
I could wax lyrical about all of the categories in the awards and how they reflect some of the macro trends affecting IoT. The growing importance of IoT MVNOs is reflected in the huge number of entries from the likes of Eseye, Pod Group, Tata and Wireless Logic. The massive impact that the cloud is having on IoT is also well demonstrated in the number of solutions both built in the cloud or focused on integrating with cloud services.
The overall picture is one of a technology sector (if IoT is, indeed, a sector) bursting with innovation and which has been vital in helping sectors deal with the fallout from the global pandemic.
If you’re interested to see the whole of the shortlist, it’s available HERE and the winners will be announced on the 22nd November.