IoT in general has taken off quickly over the past few years, but experts at the recent IoT World highlighted that the enterprise part of the market has been particularly robust of late – it’s not just an explosion of connected home gadgets anymore.

Donna Moore, chairwoman of the LoRa Alliance, an industry group that works to develop and scale low-power WAN technology for mass usage, said on a panel that she’s never seen growth this fast in the sector. “I’d say we’re now in the early mass adopters [stage],” she said.

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The technology itself has pushed adoption to these heights, said Graham Trickey, head of IoT for the GSMA, a trade organization for mobile network operators. Along with price drops for wireless connectivity modules, the array of upcoming technologies nestling under the umbrella label of 5G could simplify the process of connecting devices to edge-computing hardware – and the edge to the cloud or data center.

“Mobile operators are not just providers of connectivity now, they’re farther up the stack,” he said. Technologies like narrow-band IoT and support for highly demanding applications like telehealth are all set to be part of the final 5G spec.

Partnerships needed to deal with IoT complexity

That’s not to imply that there aren’t still huge tasks facing both companies trying to implement their own IoT frameworks and the creators of the technology underpinning them. For one thing, IoT tech requires a huge array of different sets of specialized knowledge.

“That means partnerships, because you need an expert in your [vertical] area to know what you’re looking for, you need an expert in communications, and you might need a systems integrator,” said Trickey.

Phil Beecher, the president and CEO of the Wi-SUN Alliance (the acronym stands for Smart Ubiquitous Networks, and the group is heavily focused on IoT for the utility sector), concurred with that, arguing that broad ecosystems of different technologies and different partners would be needed. “There’s no one technology that’s going to solve all these problems, no matter how much some parties might push it,” he said.

One of the central problems – IoT security – is particularly dear to Beecher’s heart, given the consequences of successful hacks of the electrical grid or other utilities. More than one panelist praised the passage of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, saying that it offered concrete guidelines for entities developing IoT tech – a crucial consideration for some companies that may not have a lot of in-house expertise in that area.

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