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Look through any technology publication or retail catalog, and I bet that you will find something described as “connected,” “smart,” or “intelligent” on every page. From smart digital supply chains to connected refrigerators, intelligent thermostats, and smart razors, the idea of connecting devices to an unlimited variety of things to do things better, safer, faster, and easier has been considered a competitive advantage or critical selling point.

But now that everything possible is connected, is there really anything left for the Internet of Things (IoT) to do? According to recent predictions from IDC and Gartner, now is not the time to discount the IoT as old news. In fact, it’s not yet done changing how businesses run, people go about their daily lives, and the world views what it means to be “connected.”

The next chapter of IoT: Setting the foundation for more intelligent edge operations

As we approach the new year, IoT capabilities are starting to shift from digitally enabling physical assets to automating and augmenting how people experience the connected world. By incorporating audible, visual, tactile, environmental, and contextual inputs, the technology could potentially help companies further multiply the potential for innovating unimaginable business models and processes.

IDC predicts that approximately 40% of IoT data analysis will be done on devices that reside close to their business endpoints within the next four years. To catch this wave of high-potential insight, companies may want to consider investing edge-gateway technology to analyze larger data sets as quickly as the information is captured.

As companies increasingly leverage the IoT to capture, aggregate, analyze, and interpret data from the core to the edge of the business, they create a solid foundation for more advanced digital strategies. Such approaches may include the adoption of emerging intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.

As the IoT shifts from centralized, cloud-enabled infrastructures to edge architectures, the endpoint will likely evolve into a more unstructured landscape of a wide variety of “things” and services meshed together dynamically.

While this environment will create IoT systems that are highly flexible, intelligent, and responsive, Gartner warns that it may open a range of concerns over ownership of the data and the insights deduced from it. CIOs and IT leaders must watch whether their algorithms exhibit bias based on learned behavior and secure the company’s ability to comply with data privacy mandates such as the General Data Protection Regulation.

The IoT is far from dead – it’s evolving

The brutal reality of the IoT is that the global ecosystem of devices, information systems, and machines is saturated with sensors and WiFi and cellular connections. The technology has become an expectation that consumers take for granted and businesses rely on just to keep up with their competitors.

But don’t be fooled: the IoT is still worth the time, effort, and attention of CIOs and functional leaders. By innovating and extending IoT capabilities to the edge of everything the business touches in socially responsible, ethical, and legal ways, companies can change how people view and benefit from connected intelligence – and possibly improve our world for the better in unimaginable ways.