There’s a lot of excitement around Internet of Things (IoT) right now – and rightfully so. IoT technologies have advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years, and this momentum isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. As we begin 2018, excitement and expectations are high throughout the industry as IoT’s potential for transforming businesses and enhancing operations feels limitless. As such, it’s no surprise that 73% of organizations plan to increase their IoT investment over the next year, according to a recent study.

Since it’s easy to get caught up in the hype, we recently sat down with Bsquare Sr. Director of Products Dave McCarthy to discuss how he sees IoT progressing over the next 12 months. In addition to compiling a video summary of his 2018 IoT predictions, we wanted to share a full overview of what business leaders can expect to see as IoT continues to develop this year:

#1. IoT will become more accessible.

The evolution of IoT technology has eliminated the need for costly, extensive, highly technical solution deployments. More simplified plug-and-play IoT applications require fewer resources to implement, and are configurable to specific organizational needs. This approach will gain momentum in 2018 as businesses look to streamline deployments.

 #2. Composite digital twins will gain popularity.

Digital twins are great IoT innovations, but few businesses are currently utilizing them to their full potential. Expect that to change this year, as understanding of the holistic insights composite digital twins can provide continues to grow. By advancing from a single asset view to a larger asset population, organizations unlock new opportunities to enhance operations.

 #3. Edge computing will gain momentum.

Despite many well-established benefits, edge computing and embedded software are historically underutilized. This is going to change in 2018, as organizations seek to scale their IoT deployments. Many factors related to implementing IoT across large asset populations – such as real-time response rates and data transfer expenses – can limit cloud or data center effectiveness. Edge computing is key to overcoming these obstacles when expanding an IoT solution.

#4. Organizations will work to bridge the divide between IT and OT.

IT and OT have traditionally operated as siloed organizations. IT handled technologies that are critical for managing information, while OT focused on physical assets and software. However, as IoT implementations become more strategic, the internal stakeholders driving those initiatives will need to evolve as well – resulting in an expanded role for IT. Expect organizations to adapt by creating “Centers of Excellence” to unite IT and OT to produce more effective IoT deployments and enhanced ROI.

#5. IoT will extend beyond critical assets.

To this point, initial IoT deployments have focused on mission critical equipment and systems across most organizations. As those first waves of adoption begin to pay off, organizations will gain confidence and begin exploring other applications for IoT. This will prompt expanded deployments that include less critical assets to compound ROI.

#6. Data ownership and privacy will remain key issues.

The question of who owns what data, as well as how it can be used and secured, remains unanswered. With little precedent to go on, the conversation around these unexplored topics is still developing. It’s important that companies consider the implications of data ownership and security, as well as effective ways to share it, within their ecosystem. Though we won’t see this issue resolved in 2018, I am optimistic we’ll see some encouraging progress in the discussion.

#7. Utilization of AR/VR with IoT will expand.

Pairing augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) with IoT carries a lot of potential in terms of managing business processes, predicting consumer behavior, and optimizing growth. From utilizing AR to better inform equipment operators, to simulating real-world conditions and responses with VR – innovations in how users can interact with IoT data will evolve this coming year.