NEST Thermostat-scaled

IDC: 30 Billion Autonomous Devices By 2020

The official “numbers guys” (and gals) of the technology business over at IDC have just come out with a new report on The Internet of Things and it has some eye-popping numbers. Top among them: an (estimated) 30 billion autonomous “connected things” deployed by the end of this decade.

Nest Thermostat
Business activity tied to the Internet of Things will reach almost $10 trillion by 2020, IDC says.

The report, “Worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) 2013-2020 Forecast: Billions of Things, Trillions of Dollars” is a market outlook for the IoT ecosystem, which IDC says comprises “intelligent systems, connectivity services, platforms, analytics, and vertical applications” it also includes professional services and security for IoT infrastructures.

While IP-enabled things aren’t exactly “new,” the IoT is being driven by factors that haven’t been common previously, namely: ubiquitous, wireless Internet connectivity, regardless of location, notes IDC analyst Carrie MacGillivray.

IDC says the trend lines are pointing up in a serious way, with IoT related economic activity to grow at a 7.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), from global revenues of $4.8 trillion in 2012 to $8.9 trillion by 2020.

Among the drivers of IoT adoption:

  • Continued development of smart cities, cars, and houses
  • Enhanced connectivity infrastructure
  • An increasingly connected culture

Current IoT use cases are “just the tip of the iceberg,” said IDC Senior Vice President Vernon Turner in a published statement.

Still, the picture is not all rosy, IDC warns. IoT growth is dependent on cross-industry standards, infrastructure to allow IoT services to scale globally and an application development ecosystem that is “nascent.”

The need for more public-private sector interaction to support the growth of IoT recently brought industry leaders to Washington D.C. for an IoT summit. However, the federal government shutdown prevented the participation of a number of key officials from the Federal Trade Commission and other federal agencies.

A lack of clear guidance on security is often cited as a major hurdle for the IoT. Leading security thinkers, such as John Pescatore of The SANS Institute, have warned that traditional approaches to IT security – tailored to conventional IT environments – won’t port well to the distributed, low power, perimeter-less IoT. Among other things, Pescatore advises against the PC-centric notion of adding security software to IoT devices.