It seems as though 2018 is ending as soon as it began. But, upon reflection on the past 12 months, the year was quite eventful. We have seen the accelerated implementation of new technologies, including machine learning, AI and, of course, the internet of things. From consumers’ mass adoption of voice assistants and connected home devices to increased use of robotics and advanced sensors in the supply chain, it seems as though we are on the verge of a dramatic shift in the way we interact with technology.
As we look forward to 2019, it is once again time to look into the crystal ball and determine what the near future brings for IoT.
Connectivity will continue to march along
IDC estimated that IoT spending will experience a compound annual growth rate of 13.6% over the 2017-2022 time frame, resulting in a $1.2 trillion total spend in 2022. What does this mean? An increased amount of connectivity of digital signals will feed into all aspects of our businesses and supply chains. Look for our homes to continue to become more connected. We already have seen a proliferation of home assistants such as Apple’s HomePod, Google Home and Amazon Echo, to name a few. Not to be outdone, Facebook is pushing its Portal device to try and get some of its dedicated, connected hardware into our homes. Home connectivity is not limited to these devices; some companies are aiming to bring greater connectivity to more traditional home durables, as Samsung is doing with refrigerators. This is also prevalent in the connected car arena. As Apple and Android continue to jockey to make their connected hubs the standard entertainment center in vehicles, one thing is clear: No matter where we are, or what we are doing, we will never be not connected again.
IoT will get closer to our heart
IoT will not look to woo our love, but rather get closer to our physical being — literally touching our hearts. Just look at the latest version of Apple products, especially the new watches. These devices integrate technology that can monitor our health. 2019 will see a continued rise of consumer product companies seeking to bring greater connectivity to our physical being. Whether it is through smarter watches, connected fabrics in our clothing or digital pills, companies will seek to use the ability to connect what is happening with our bodies 24/7 into a market for well-being and health, expedited by the FDA’s approval of the first digital pill last year. Companies from Merck and Johnson & Johnson to Apple and Google will all be embarking on greater projects to bring greater connectivity closer to, and inside of, our bodies.
Major data breaches will stoke fears of a more connected world
We all have lived through major data breaches: Yahoo, Sony, Target, Equifax and most recently the Marriott Hotel chain. Some of these hacks, such as Target, can be traced to IoT as the hackers, in this case, accessed the data via the connected HVAC system. However, the public’s outrage did not focus on the “how,” but rather the “what.” As consumers become savvier about their connected world, look for 2019 to mark a pivot where a consumer’s data breach will be traced to all those connected devices and systems that permeate our world. The general media and consumers will realize how much of our world is already connected, likely inciting a knee-jerk reaction of how this connectivity makes us more vulnerable to hacks. This will prompt governments and the public to call for a greater emphasis on how we can harden these hacker targets.
Awareness of greater connectivity will also drive consumer expectations
As consumers, we are all accustomed to tracking our packages from point of origin to delivery. But that is simply the tip of the expectation iceberg. As consumers become more aware of the greater connectivity we have, with IoT they will start asking and demanding increased visibility. Can we see where that product came from? How was it manufactured? What journey did it take to get to me? In addition, an increased sensitivity to such factors as the items’ carbon footprint will incite questions about supply chains, asking for more information and increasing visibility via greater connectivity services. Brands and supply chains can no longer hide and must prioritize having the capability to provide this clarity.
We live in a digital world — that is no news bulletin. However, look for 2019 to be a pivotal year as consumers become savvier to what that connectivity actually means. This will result in increased pressure on the brands and global supply chains to use this digital connectivity to provide greater insights and understanding of products.