5 IoT trends to watch in 2021

CRN looks at five IoT trends that will help define the technology landscape in the years to come, from connected assets for remote operations to location data for consumer convenience.

The coronavirus pandemic took a hit on worldwide IoT spending this year, according to research firm IDC, but double-digit growth is expected to return in the next few years. Among the drivers for this increased spending — which will reach an annual growth rate of 11.3 percent over IDC’s 2020-2024 forecast period — will be a greater need for connected devices to enable remote operations and artificial intelligence to monitor human behavior. Many of these things have come to the forefront this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but their collective importance is expected to increase in the near future.

Changes In Real Estate Trends Will Push Smart Office Initiatives

With a significant number of employees expected to continue working from home next year, some employers are expected to consolidate their real estate holdings and find ways to save money on space and energy. One way they will do this, according to Forrester, is through IoT applications for smart office initiatives. These initiatives will include smart lighting, energy and environmental monitoring as well as sensor-enabled space utilization and activity monitoring, according to Forrester’s “Predictions 2021: Technology Diversity Drives IoT Growth” report.

The Internet Of Behavior Is Coming To Your Workplace

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many organizations think about virus spread, so expect to see more IoT technologies in the field that monitors behavior in various ways to enforce health and safety guidelines, according to Gartner’s “Top Strategic Technology Trends For 2021” report. This will include using sensors or RFID tags to ensure employees are washing hands and using computer vision to determine if employees are wearing masks. Gartner refers to this collection and analysis of behavioral data to influence how people behave the Internet of Behavior. But this concept will expand beyond public health concerns to other areas, like commercial vehicles, which organizations are starting to monitor using various sensors. However, Gartner noted, privacy laws will impact the extent to which these new ways of tracking and influencing behavior will be adopted.

Location Data Will Become More Prominent

Location data became more relevant than ever this year due to the coronavirus pandemic prompting many retailers and other kinds of organizations shifting to things like curbside pickup and remote check-in. Forrester expects this to become the norm next year as location data becomes “core” in “delivering convenient customer and employee experiences.” This means there will be greater need for technology vendors and partners who can help these businesses use location data in addition to a third-party source for collecting location data that consumers can trust, according to Forrester’s “Predictions 2021: Technology Diversity Drives IoT Growth” report.

This Year’s Pivot To Remote Operations Will Expand Connected Assets

Manufacturers, distributors, utilities and pharmaceutical companies have had to connect industrial assets this year to enable remote operations and that will lead to even greater investments in IoT in 2021 to meet growing demand from customers, according to Forrester. This approach is allowing companies to increasingly rely on remote experts to repair systems so that downtime is minimal and expensive travel is avoided. More companies, particularly field service firms and industrial OEMs, will increasingly use this approach, making connected machines more ubiquitous than ever before, according to Forrester’s “Predictions 2021: Technology Diversity Drives IoT Growth” report.

Connected Health Care Will Ramp Up In 2021

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping many people at home in 2020, there will be a greater need moving forward to use connected health care solutions to manage illnesses and monitor health. Forrester expects this will drive a surge in adoption of wearables and sensors to help patients keep track of things like chronic conditions and cancer. There will also be greater interest in digital health devices among consumers due to convivence and more affordable prices, according to Forrester’s “Predictions 2021: Technology Diversity Drives IoT Growth” report.

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