Within a few years, your car and home combined computing power will be enough to process data and perform tasks you are usually performing on a high-end laptop. Some 20.5 billion connected “things” will be in use worldwide in 2020, according to Gartner, competing with cloud implementations for providing computing power for both business and personal use. Cloud adoption is gaining pace and Gartner analysts believe that by 2020 most companies will adopt at least one major cloud solution for their business while improved availability and resiliency, as well as better agility and responsiveness, will be the major driving forces behind cloud adoption.

IoT Advancements Result in Higher IoT Spending

Nonetheless, the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies introduce the competing concept of edge computing, or fog computing, where simple, at first glance, devices like your home and car sensors can perform computing operations now performed on a relatively powerful local machine or in the cloud.

IoT spending, 2014 to 2017

Advocates of edge computing like venture capitalist Peter Levine claim that a self-driving car, having some 200 CPUs, can effectively act as a “data center in wheels”, making it unnecessary for the average user to harness the power of the cloud to perform computing operations. His far-reaching idea is that machines like driverless cars can be used to process data and perform computing operations that are now performed in the cloud. Such everyday uses vary from simple email actions to messaging to office work done in the cloud. Sure, much more activities are performed in the cloud, and some of them require significant computer power, but it is only a matter of time and tech advancement to fit such computing power within a personal vehicle.

For instance, IBM recently announce their researchers have managed to create the world’s smallest magnet and place one bit of data on a single atom. Thus, a device a size of a plastic card can store information a small business would need years to produce. Such information would include business transactions, accounting information, tax records, or any personal information you will need entire life to collect. Combined computing power of your mobile and home IoT devices will not have any difficulties storing and processing these vast amounts of data.

Connected Devices Are on the Rise

Imagine a world where each of your IoT devices can act both as a storage device and as a processor. The technology allowing this is already available. What is lacking are communications standards allowing device compatibility and interoperability, as well as reliable IoT security. Nevertheless, a shift from cloud computing to IoT and then Internet of Everything (IoE) is inevitable in the long run, having so many cheap and powerful computing devices around.

Mobile phones, which also have computing capabilities, are still the largest category of connected devices. IoT devices will surpass smartphones as early as in 2018, according to a report by Ericsson. By 2020, we’ll have some 28 billion connected devices and only 8.6 billion of them will be mobile phones. The rest will include connected cars, machines, utility meters, remote metering and consumer electronics – whose combined computing and data processing power is extremely hard to calculate. It will be simply stupid and resource wasting not to take advantage of such a vast computing power.

Cloud and Processing Power Drive Industrial Change

Not that cloud will disappear. You can hardly store the data produced by a large industrial enterprise on the sensors within its industrial facilities and process it using IoT devices. For the foreseeable future, one will need either high-end on-site computing power or powerful cloud-based implementation to store and process such amounts and type of data.

Top technological drivers of industrial change by 2020

For instance, a connected plane produces some 40 TB of data daily, while a connected factory is producing some 1 PB of data per day. Even a straightforward weather sensor will generate some 10 MB per day, according to a Cisco survey, although existing home IoT devices can deal with such amount of data and process it flawlessly.

Viable IoT and IoE Solutions

Technology breakthroughs like IBM’s one-bit-per-atom storage solution will not be in mass production for a few more years and we’ll not witness widely adopted standardization of the IoT market for some time. Nevertheless, the process has started and home and mobile IoT devices will inevitably set foot in the market for computing power now monopolized by cloud-based services. And we do not even take into account the idle and largely unused capabilities of those wearable devices that are able to communicate with their home or office peers.

Anyway, a few years from now edge computing will play an important role in performing resource- and time-consuming operations that are now routinely performed in the cloud or on a high-end computer. Probably we’ll witness also some hybrid IoT – Cloud implementations but all tech advancements point out at viable IoT and IoE solutions coming to life.