IoT Trends for 2018, connectivity in the limelight

Published by Vicente Muñoz Boza IoT General

In 2017, we have seen the rise of technologies associated with Big Data, the popularization of VR and the emergence of autonomous cars. But much still remains to be seen. The general outlook seems to be taking shape around certain applications and more specific technological solutions such as eSIM, the IoT based on Blockchain and Edge Solutions. These are the trends that will drive the direction of the development of connectivity in 2018.

eSIM, global enabler for the IoT

eSIM is the future of devices, especially in telephones, plus it greatly facilitates the adoption of cellular connectivity in devices that would generally not have it, such as smartwatches and other wearables. Basically, it consists in a Subscriber Identity Module (or SIM) that can be reprogrammed remotely without the need to change it physically, which means easier management for operators from the administrative standpoint, as well as in the use of a single SKU in the manufacture of devices, which will allow for simpler traceability. This shapes the perfect scenario to see global IoT products more often. The eSIM will reach a CAGR of 26.3% between 2019 and 2025.[1] But new challenges also come with digital SIMs, such as the need for OTA (Over the Air) maintenance which allows the devices and their connectivity to be properly managed regardless of the place in the world or the environment where they are located. The first trendsetting details of eSIM operations will be seen in 2018.

Drones, the new world delivery system

According to experts, the drone services market will be worth $18.0227 billion by 2022 [2]. As more commercial drones (which can weigh between 2 and 150 kg) and their uses arrive to market, the greater concern is over not only their regulation, but also their application and technology. The year 2018 will be crucial in the development of realistic global laws on the use of these robots for all kinds of tasks, especially messaging, but also research, control, monitoring and audiovisual production.

In regulatory aspects, safety will be another key aspect of drones. Thus, cellular networks, which are safe by design, are a perfect alternative as a communications network and to control drones. In this sense, there are several lines of work coming from operators. But as mentioned above, there are still many legislative gaps to be filled before seeing many of these devices on the market.

Overcoming barriers to Edge Solutions

The Edge Computing market is expected to grow from $185.8 billion in 2017 to $838.6 billion by 2022 [3]. Meanwhile, Edge Solutions for the IoT present a series of challenges related to the future of computing and scalability. They include latency, more efficient use of broadband and security. These problems will be the focus of attention of technological proposals in this coming year. Edge infrastructure brings assets back from the cloud to networks, taking advantage of cloud computing but preventing issues like bandwidths with legacy networks that can’t handle additional workloads. Edge solutions will be empowered in 2018 both technically and in terms of public attention.

IoT and Blockchain, an empowered pair

To fully ensure the integrity and security of data, IoT solutions based on the Blockchain are considered one of the best options available. The maturity of the sector, in which the adoption of the Blockchain is increasingly common, will allow its management applications to be increased, such as control solutions for supply chains in the industrial sector. Communication and information will also be the focus of these applications, which estimates say will witness growth of up to $6.0766 billion in 2023 [4].

Consolidating device management

For companies, a device management system means having better control and security, as well as greater efficiency, and it lowers the chances of having a device in down time. Currently, there is a fragmentation in management protocols that hinders their proper functioning. The number of wireless M2M device connections will grow to more than 2.2 billion in 2023 [5]. The industry is adopting the Lightweight M2M protocol as a standard for this low-end. On the other hand, the more than 20 billion IoT devices expected by 2020 [6] will continue to deal with this fragmentation, which will drive the development of a standard in 2018.

LPWA for new connectivity

LPWA technologies offer a range never before seen in other connectivity solutions. In 2016 and 2017, we have seen how they consolidated around the NB-IoT and LTE-M, allowing for the connection of billions of devices of all types at once. The number of low power wide area connections will grow to 3 billion in 2025, up from 59 million in 2016 [7], and we will start see the exponential boom of this technology in 2018.

Industry goes smarter

According to estimates, Industry 4.0 is growing quickly and is expected to reach a market value of $152.31 billion by 2022 [8]. Therefore, the supply chain must adapt to the new smart solutions offered by the interconnectivity of the IoT. The current industry trend is driven by that aspect, which will be able to achieve great things in the near future, taking advantage of the maturity of Artificial Intelligence.

Voice, the interface of the future

Voice assistants have matured in the last five years until reaching a peak in their development. Now these assistants are evolving towards new assistance shares, making it possible to do things that were unthinkable just a few years ago. Right now, their application in more services and their associated technology are allowing smart assistants to be used as the only interface in a host of devices. In 2018, we will see some of the fruits of this evolution, with an increasing number of connected items handled only by voice. A CAGR of 30.45% in terms of unit shipment and revenue is expected for 2022 [9]. Their spread will also be related to financial services to provide secure services with voice authentication, beyond their application in devices targeted to end consumers.

Big Data analysis is still a hot topic

During the past year, Big Data has become one of the clearest trends in all technology circles. In 2018, this will not decrease, but instead it will increase and move towards creating a new and broader category of IoT services for end users beyond wearables and the current Smart Home devices. Big Data analysis will open new doors to services related to connected cars, which will use massive amounts of information collected and processed in real time, as well as a host of applications related to health and emergency services provided by Smart Cities. New layers of value associated with this analysis will grow on these services. According to estimates, Big Data and Business Analytics revenues will reach $210 billion in 2020 [10], which exemplifies the growing impact of this technological concept on future scenarios.

Cybersecurity for an increasing number of threats

Security is still among the top five topics when talking about the future. There will be more IoT attacks aimed not only at endpoints (devices) but also at the base (platforms and cloud). In 2018, the market related to cybersecurity will reach $149.79 billion [11], accelerated by increased global awareness, as well as by the increase in the number of attacks in recent years. Cybercriminals are always trying to uncover new security flaws, so it is important to never let your guard down. The new technologies will help increase the ways we have to deal with them effectively, which will clearly be seen in the security solutions that take advantage of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data in 2018.


[1] GmbH, finanzen net. n.d. “E-SIM Card Market, Wearable & Companion Devices, Smartphones, and Tablets & Laptops - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2017 - 2025.” Accessed November 29, 2017.

[2] “Drone Service Market by industry”. Markets & Markets. Accessed December 15, 2017.

[3] “Mobile Edge Computing Market 2017 - Global Forecast to 2022 - Rising Focus on Delivering High.” n.d. Accessed November 19, 2017.

[4] Reportlinker. n.d. “Blockchain Market: Forecast (2017 - 2023).” Accessed November 29, 2017.

[5] “‘Lightweight M2M’: Enabling Device Management and Applications for the Internet of Things.” n.d. Accessed November 29, 2017.

[6] “Gartner Says 8.4 Billion Connected.” n.d. Accessed November 29, 2017.

[7] “LPWA Market Forecast: Connections Will Grow by 3 Billion in Under Ten Years.” n.d. Internet of Things (blog). Accessed November 29, 2017.

[8] “Industry 4.0 Market 2017 - Global Forecast to 2022: Industrial Robotics, Cyber Security, IofT, 3D Printing, Advanced Human-Machine Interface, Big Data, Augmented Reality & VR, AI - Research and Markets.” 2017. May 26, 2017.

[9] “Global Smart Voice Assistant Speaker Market - Strategic Assessment & Forecasts to 2022 - Research and Markets.” 2017. September 8, 2017.

[10] “Big Data and Business Analytics Revenues Forecast to Reach $150.8 Billion This Year, Led by Banking and Manufacturing Investments, According to IDC.” n.d. Accessed November 29, 2017.

[11] “Global Cyber Security Market Forecast 2016-2021 | Statistic.” Statista. Accessed November 29, 2017.


Vicente Muñoz Boza
Chief IoT Officer at Telefónica Group