By many measures, 2018 was the year Internet of Things (IoT) adoption came of age, both in the consumer and enterprise markets. The number of connected devices increased 15-20 percent, more enterprise IoT projects were launched or progressed towards completion, new technologies like cellular IoT changed the landscape, and the use of turnkey IoT “platforms” (versus those built in-house) expanded significantly.

These developments are exciting and offer an encouraging outlook for the future. At Ayla Networks, we’ve always believed the internet is a transformational force that will eventually drive all things to be powered, digitized, and connected for better outcomes. When we started our journey eight years ago, there were virtually no connected devices. Gradually that changed with the advent and growth of smart home devices for convenience and control. Fast forward to today when IoT has become an integral part of digital transformation initiatives in commercial and industrial segments. Our vision is to deliver on the promise of the “Connected Home” and the “Connected Enterprise,” spanning a wide range of use cases and services including security, energy management, asset performance, health care efficiency, and risk and compliance management.

This vision is already becoming a reality in interesting ways. Case in point: A leading global manufacturer of HVAC systems approached us three years ago with the intent of developing a new connected product line purely for competitive differentiation reasons because they believed IoT would be the “in thing.” Today the benefits to their business goes beyond being cool—not only have they dramatically improved their service efficiency and cost structure, but they are also achieving unparalleled operational visibility into their existing deployed assets.

Service providers—such as wireless operators and utilities—are also adopting our IoT vision to launch new innovative services to stay competitive. One of the largest SPs in the Asia-Pacific region is using IoT technology to remotely manage tens of thousands of gas meters leveraging the Narrowband-IoT standard, with implications on smart city initiatives. Other leading U.S.-based SP companies are looking to transform elder care management, improve security solutions, and help food services companies better manage risk with enhanced inventory track and trace capabilities. These are watershed projects for IoT, and are driving dramatically higher operational efficiencies, unlocking growth opportunities through data monetization, and delivering much improved customer experiences.

As we enter 2019, I predict that while the connected home market will continue to see steady incremental growth, the enterprise IoT sector will pick up exponentially based on the types of inquiries we’ve fielded from industries as diverse as food manufacturing, agricultural equipment, coffee brewers, and real estate management, among others. These are complex use cases with many moving parts and long sales cycles, but the size of the problems and opportunities for digital transformation are breathtaking.

2019 will be the year of enterprise IoT, featuring expansion into a wide variety of use cases and driving meaningful business improvement. The future of IoT is bright, and it’s rapidly evolving from a technology experiment to a strategic imperative.