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Gartner predicts 20.8 billion Internet of Things units by 2020


November 11, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter


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There will be nearly 21 billion installed “Internet of Things” (IoT) units by 2020, more than five times the number last year, Gartner Inc. predicts.

“Aside from connected cars, consumer uses will continue to account for the greatest number of connected things, while enterprise will account for the largest spending,” stated Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner, in a press release Tuesday.

Gartner Inc. predicts an installed base of 20.8 billion Internet of Things units, by 2020

Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, an information technology research firm, published Tuesday details of its forecast for IOT installed base units and endpoint spending.

There were 3.807 billion IoT units installed in 2014, Gartner noted in the release.

Strategy Meets Action, a Boston-based insurance industry research firm, earlier defined IoT as “a network of trillions of physical things with embedded technologies that communicate or sense the internal or external environments of that physical thing, including people and animals.” That definition was included in an SMA report titled Emerging Technologies: Reshaping the Next-Gen Insurer, announced in October, 2014.

“Sensors are increasingly being built into products or embedded into things such as animals, land, people, and more, generating massive amounts of data that could be used by companies, including insurance, to offer new products, services, or solutions,” SMA said at the time.

In its press release Tuesday, Gartner cited several examples of IoT, including connected cars, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and building management systems. Other examples, Gartner noted, include specialized equipment used in hospital operating theatres and tracking devices in container ships.

The total number of installed IoT units is forecast at 4.9 billion in 2015, 6.392 billion in 2016 and 20.797 billion by 2020.

Of the 4.9 billion units this year, 3.023 billion will be consumer, 632 million will be cross-industry business and 1.065 billion will be vertical-specific business applications, Gartner predicts.

In 2020, Gartner forecasts an installed base of 13.5 billion consumer units, 4.4 billion cross-industry business units and 2.88 billion vertical-specific units.

“By 2020, cross-industry devices will dominate the number of connected things used in the enterprise,” Tully stated.

In a report released in 2014, IBM Corp. warned of security threats from IoT devices.

“When users access the data on ‘things’ or control them – usually through a cloud service from the user’s mobile device – it’s crucial to ensure that the user is who he or she claims to be,” IBM stated in its X-Force Threat Intelligence Quarterly, 4Q 2014 “You wouldn’t want a thief to be able to unlock and start your car with a simple username and password, especially considering the recent spate of credential compromises and the knowledge that most users choose simple passwords.”

In that report, IBM noted that vehicles, implantable medical devices and utility meters can be connected to a computer network, and in some cases the public Internet.

“Malicious actors intent on taking control of data, identities and passwords have been investigating and making use of Internet-connected devices that are not securely developed, making them easier targets than PCs, laptops or tablets,” IBM warned at the time.