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10 mobile and IoT predictions for 2017

What surprises will mobile and IoT bring? Expect more mobile-first experiences, a 'Wi-Fi First' world, more agile methods, low-code development, and a boost from better networks.

Change is the one constant in the technology world, and the year 2017 undoubtedly will bring advances—if not breakthroughs—in a number of areas. As the new year begins, here are 10 predictions for how enterprises will use mobile technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2017.

Five predictions for enterprise mobile in 2017

Mobile payments get easier

After years of failing to fulfill predictions, mobile payments gained traction in 2016. Apple announced that Apple Pay was adding 1 million users per week. Major retailers and financial services companies—including CVS, Kohl's, Walmart, Chase, and Citibank—rolled out payment features in their mobile apps. In addition, MasterCard and Visa launched initiatives to support mobile payment offerings from banks.

Yet fragmentation and ease of use remain barriers to full-scale mobile payments adoption. Apple Pay, for example, can’t be used by Android users, who comprise a majority of smartphone owners and have their own mobile wallet—Android Pay—available. (Still, Android Pay doesn’t even work on all Android devices.)

And though the fragmentation issue will persist through 2017, vendors will continue to offer ways to make mobile payments easier. Look for more mobile payment options within mobile apps and web browsers in the next year as retailers and banks strive to meet the expectations of consumers who want frictionless transactions. One good example is Google’s Hands Free, an app that allows owners of newer Android and iPhone devices to make in-store payments without reaching for their phones or wallets. Hands Free currently can be used only in a handful of Silicon Valley pilot stores, but it could be rolled out for wider distribution in 2017.

As mobile payment options multiply and fragmentation persists, enterprise IT departments will be under pressure to ensure a satisfying and secure customer experience. Enabling mobile consumers to conduct transactions simply, quickly, and safely will require tight integration of mobile services with a flexible and scalable infrastructure.

 A unified mobile experience

Many enterprises in recent years have been following a “mobile first” strategy in which software development prioritizes the mobile user experience. In 2017, the focus increasingly will move past mobile app development and the processes around it. Forrester Research writes, “Consumer app fatigue is forcing digital business professionals to offer a portfolio of mobile experiences that go beyond apps and depend on ecosystem partners, [to] pull mobile in-house [and to] operate as a collection of synced agile teams building better customer experiences.”

Translation: Consumers now want a seamless, personalized mobile experience that transcends devices, platforms, and mode of connectivity. In the coming year expect more enterprises to follow the lead of online auction giant eBay, which in 2015 rolled out eBay 4.0, a mobile platform offering customers an integrated, customizable, and personalized experience, no matter which devices they use.

Enterprises striving to provide a unified mobile experience in 2017 must equip IT and developers with collaborative tools for rapid development and deployment of cross-platform, personalized mobile services.

 A ‘Wi-Fi First’ world

Consumers and enterprise workers worried about exceeding their mobile data plan limits are used to switching from cellular networks to Wi-Fi as a way to conserve data. However, as mobile devices consume larger amounts of data, a more proactive approach has become necessary. Enter “Wi-Fi First,” in which Wi-Fi is the mobile default connection to the Internet or an enterprise network, rather than the backup or failover.

While Wi-Fi First networks such as Google’s Project Fi and Republic Wireless have had limited impact to date because of spotty coverage areas, low signups, and restrictions on the devices able to use the networks, that could change in 2017. According to CNET, Comcast expects to roll out by midyear a Wi-Fi First network that integrates the cable giant’s 15 million Wi-Fi hotspots with Verizon’s 4G cellular network.

The growth of Wi-Fi First means central IT departments must not only make on-premises and remote and branch office Wi-Fi reliability a priority, but also refocus on the security challenge posed by mobile employees using public Wi-Fi by default.  

Agile methods and low-code development

Even as enterprises broaden their mobile focus beyond software to the full experience, mobile apps aren’t going anywhere. Indeed, demand is as high as ever. This leaves enterprises with three options: 1) Hire more experienced mobile developers, 2) shorten the development cycle, or 3) make development easier.

The shortage of quality mobile developers certainly won’t vanish in 2017, but enterprise developers will continue to leverage agile development methods and tools such as automation and cloud-based collaboration to accelerate testing and deployment of mobile apps. Meanwhile, another strategy for speeding the development of apps—using low-code software tools—likely will find niche uses such as business process automation. Scalability challenges, however, will limit the use of low-code software.

Employees fully embrace mobile security best practices

Ha ha ha! Just kidding. We all know that’s never going to happen. Too many enterprise mobile workers will continue to send unencrypted files from the local coffee shop’s wireless connection, refuse to secure their smartphones with a password or PIN because it’s a hassle, and download apps from sketchy third-party websites because, well, they can. IT must continue to secure data traveling to and from employee mobile devices, tighten network points of vulnerability, and insist on remote lock and wipe features for when smartphones and laptops are inevitably lost or stolen.

Five predictions for the Internet of Things in 2017

Connected devices make decisions

Not only are manufacturers using the Industrial Internet of Things to improve efficiency through automation, “many decisions are now starting to be automated based on data and analytics, often in real time,” according to a December 2016 study by research firm IoT Analytics GmbH:

“Cheaper sensors and integrated information are now making shop-floor entities smart agents which can process the information to [make] autonomous decisions. In this context, we may see smart processes and smart products that communicate within this environment and learn from their decisions, thereby improving performance over time.”

The “deep learning” abilities of connected machines is “the driving force behind today’s best algorithms in image recognition, natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition and many other similar areas,” the study concludes. In 2017 we’ll see more IoT devices thinking, learning, collaborating, and making decisions in a growing number of sectors, including manufacturing, energy, retail, and more.

Hackers ramp attacks on IoT

Make no mistake, Internet bad actors already know about IoT, and they’re well-armed. In September 2016, hackers assaulted a popular tech security website with a massive distributed denial-of-service attack that used the IoT—in this case, nearly 1.5 million closed-circuit TVs, cameras, and other devices—as a launching pad. Worse, the hackers then released the code (called Mirai) for the botnet attack, immediately spawning other IoT-based attacks.

But that’s just a warm-up for 2017. As devices are connected at an exponential rate, they will offer tempting (and, in far too many cases, poorly secured) targets for hackers. In fact, an October 2016 report on IoT enterprise risk by ForeScout Technologies identified seven common enterprise IoT devices that can be hacked in as little as three minutes. The new year will bring a sharp increase in large IoT attacks, which in turn will prompt many enterprises to belatedly begin developing comprehensive IoT strategies that emphasize rules and policies for security and governance.

Increasingly, cars gain a sense of self

Digital technology has been infiltrating the automotive industry for the better part of two decades, and connected cars no longer are a novelty. Even non-luxury vehicles these days include dashboard navigation, voice-activated infotainment, Internet connectivity, and more.

But cloud computing, artificial intelligence, smart sensors, and the ability to connect with and share information with other devices are converging to enable the emergence of the “self-aware” car. These vehicles will be able to process information about their immediate surroundings (such as the activities of pedestrians, other vehicles, and traffic lights); proactively monitor their mechanical condition; offer travel advice based on weather, accidents, and road congestion; and even play music to match a driver’s mood (assuming a driver is even necessary).

Thilo Koslowski, formerly an auto analyst at Gartner and now managing director and CEO of Porsche Digital, has predicted that by 2018, one in five vehicles on the road will be self-aware. Expect steady progress toward that goal in 2017, with a special focus on developing security to help prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in these intelligent, connected computers on wheels.

Get up to speed on the major trends facing the automotive industry—from consumer demands and intensifying regulations to aggressive new competitors.

More IoT development tools (if not talent)

The explosion of mobile technology over the past decade has created a huge talent gap that enterprises still struggle with today. As the IoT ramps, enterprises face a similar challenge in finding or training the people who know how to design and write code for interconnected devices to function. This means experienced and talented IoT developers and designers will command top dollar in 2017.

Fortunately, specialized and integrated platforms from technology vendors are emerging to make it easier for IoT developers to do their jobs. These tools include IoT-specific platforms, protocols, middleware, open source code, embedded operating systems, and more. Another boost to IoT development in 2017 should come from the recently released Android Things, Google’s platform for building IoT products with its Android operating system. Developers should be able to combine Google’s extensive library of Android APIs and Google resources with popular turnkey hardware solutions to build IoT products.

A boost from better networks

Like anything connected to the Internet, IoT devices—particularly those that must perform in real-time (see “self-aware” cars above)—are dependent on the quality of the networks that connect them.

If carrier giant Verizon has its way, its next-generation 5G wireless network will see at least a limited commercial deployment in 2017. With transmission speeds of 30 to 50 times that of 4G networks (based on Verizon tests), 5G will turbo-charge the Internet of Things. A full rollout is expected around 2020.

While 5G should instantly improve network performance, it also will enable enterprises to add more IoT traffic to the mix. That means more deployment and management responsibilities for IT.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.