Report: Internet of Things To Hit 25 Billion Units, $264 Billion by 2020

The number of things connected to the Internet and in use will grow 30 percent from this year to next, for a total of 4.9 billion, according to a new report from market research firm Gartner, and will hit 25 billion by 2020.

Along with the growth in the number of devices, Gartner predicts an increase in total spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) to climb from $69.5 billion next year to $263 billion in 2020.

Defined by Gartner as "the network of dedicated physical objects (things) that contain embedded technology to sense or interact with their internal state or external environment," the Internet of Things comprises an ecosystem that includes things, communication, applications and data analysis" that " has become a powerful force for business transformation" with effects that will be felt across all industries and areas of society.

Growth in the number of connected things will be driven by consumer applications, more than quadrupling in the consumer sector from just less than 2.9 billion in 2015 to more than 13 billion at the end of the forecast period, but enterprise will account for the majority of the revenue.

"The digital shift instigated by the nexus of forces (cloud, mobile, social and information), and boosted by IoT, threatens many existing businesses. They have no choice but to pursue IoT, like they've done with the consumerization of IT," said Jim Tully, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

By 2020, the verticals most affected by the IoT will be utilities, manufacturing and government, in that order, according to the company. But many ordinary objects, as well as novel devices, will also include sensors and computation and communication abilities. "This functionality provides both new and previously passive objects with a 'digital voice,' and the ability to create and deliver an information stream reflecting their status and that of their surrounding environment," according to information released by the company.

The likelihood that some degree of intelligence will become standard in the near future "highlights the tight linkages between information security, information technology security, operational technology security and physical security like never before," according to a news release. "Executives now face a decision regarding the future of security in their enterprise and who governs, manages and operates it." As a result, "by the end of 2017, over 20 percent of organizations will have digital security services devoted to protecting business initiatives using devices and services in IoT."

To accommodate the multiple technologies and platforms encompassed by the IoT, IT leaders will have to adopt a multifaceted technology approach to risk and security.

"The number of connected intelligent devices will continue to grow exponentially, giving 'smart things' the ability to sense, interpret, communicate and negotiate, and effectively have a digital 'voice'," said Steve Prentice, vice president and fellow at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "CIOs must look for opportunities to create new services, usage scenarios and business models based on this growth."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].