5 IoT trends to watch in 2021

By via Forbes.com 

Over the past few years, we have seen the IoT and its boundless potential take off. With a pandemic fueled 2020, digital transformation accelerated rapidly, and with increased connectivity, thanks to 5G and faster WiFi and improvements in AI and machine learning, IoT looks set to deepen its roots in our lives and industries. As we close out 2020 and look ahead to 2021 and beyond, we see not just growth in the IoT, but increased use cases and trends surrounding them. The following is a deeper look at the biggest trends taking shape in the next year. 

Umm—Can You Turn Off Your Alexa? 

If there’s one thing the success of Alexa, Ring, Nest, and other smart home devices have taught us, it’s that the IoT is nearly everywhere, if it’s not already. Research shows there will be 35 billion smart devices online by 2021, and that number will rise to 75 billion by 2025. 

But the increase in devices isn’t the trend worth noting here. Security is the name of the game. The IoT is still maturing, and in some cases, it is far from private or secure. With so many devices, IT managers are struggling to understand how many devices are actually connected to their networks leaving them vulnerable to attacks. Not to mention, when are devices active and collecting data, and when are they not? As we head into the new year, we’ll likely see an increase in the security surrounding smart devices, including AI-driven, automated ability to scan networks for IoT devices. Leaders in the space will be heads down in the coming year seeking to make their technology more private and secure like Amazon, which unleashed a series of new features in its most recent Alexa Live event that enable users to more readily and easily take control of data and privacy settings. Apple also made a massive campaign in recent times around privacy. I expect amongst big tech for this to be a trend as we seek to build consumer confidence around the applications and experience, while data safety and privacy must also be a consideration.

More Use Cases in More Industries

While the IoT reputably got its start in smart homes and smartwatches/fitness apps, we’ll see a lot more to the IoT in the coming year. This is because the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been a focal point of industry dating back to the programmable logic controller of the late 1960s. Now, we’re seeing industrial shift to “industry” with, for example, an increase in health care apps (a.k.a. the Internet of Medical Things or IoMT) that allow doctors to monitor patients’ well-being remotely and in-home health apps that allow people to check heart rates from home. Other industries are starting to realize that the IoT can help them, too. Soon we’ll see the IoRT (Internet of Retail Things), IoLT (Internet of Logistics Things), and IoWM (Internet of Workforce Management), as big business realizes that the Internet of Things can monitor, for instance, not just where someone is, but where they are, what they like to buy, and (using analytics) what they’re most likely to buy if prompted in the right place at the right time. In other words: the IoT has the ability to mean big money for almost any industry. Stand by for what’s next.

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Using IoT data to drive customer satisfaction

When the term Internet of Things (IoT) first gained popularity a decade ago, many futurists looked forward excitedly to the commercial and industrial applications of these always-on, always-connected data sources.

Today, smart homes and internet-enabled personal devices are ubiquitous and commercially successful, but B2B applications haven’t seen the same success. Vast pools of underutilized IoT data are left to grow stale in organizational silos.

It’s little wonder, when one considers the numbers:

Nearly 80 zettabytes? That’s 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. “We’re building IoT systems that take data from all these devices, and this data is classified as alerts,” or active signals, says Dave Wright, ServiceNow’s chief innovation officer. “The challenge then becomes: What do you do with all of these alerts?”

There’s untapped value hidden within these massive data volumes, Wright believes—particularly when IoT data is integrated with a customer service management platform (CSM) using smart workflows. Device data can be analyzed to prioritize service calls, for example, add value to a customer contract, even predict and prevent costly equipment failures.

“With the number of connected assets set to increase dramatically,” — an estimated 41.6 billion devices by 2025, according to research — “it’s important that we start to analyze and understand the business context of any given device,” Wright says. “In the world of connected assets, no one has really focused on this before.”

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