The past decade has been abuzz with predictions about the next generation of internet connectivity and consumer interactions: the internet-of-things (IoT). Initial projections proved to be wildly optimistic, but with the popularity of smart speakers and a continuous rollout of impressively innovative connected gadgets, it looks like IoT is here to stay-at least in some form.
The future of IoT is still up in the air. What will it really look like? How will we use it on a daily basis? How much will it cost? And how will businesses use it? There are many theories about what IoT will look like, but it’s somewhat pointless to ponder them-especially when forecasts by different authorities all seem to contradict each other.
Instead, it’s better to look at the factors that will be responsible for shaping the future of IoT, and how those factors are playing out currently.
What’s Shaping the Future of IoT?
These are the main factors that will be responsible for IoT’s transformation:
1. Business planning and tracking.
First, the rising demand for resource management software, inventory management devices, and other devices meant to help businesses organize and become more profitable, could shape R&D at most major tech companies. Resource management is a lucrative market, and one that depends on the integration of many variables and other departments. Any IoT devices, networks, or solutions that can make this more affordable or more practical will become a major priority for IoT researchers, and in turn could drive how consumer products are planned and released.
The competition between tech companies will also be a major factor. When any company releases an IoT device that takes off, there will instantly be a surge of new competing products, looking to occupy the same space (as with Fitbit and its competitors). IoT is still new, and devices that break the mold will be a risk, so once that territory is proven to be profitable by daring companies, traditional and large tech corporations will jump in for a share of the market. Accordingly, many first entrants will drive development trends, possibly for years to come.
3. “Home base” units.
Until now, most IoT devices have been standalone appliances and gadgets, with no smooth interface to connect them all together; in fact, this lack of a “home base” has been partially responsible for the lackluster sales numbers in IoT overall. However, we’re now starting to see the rise of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home; should these home bases prove popular, or even better, serve as a springboard to even more in-depth home bases, IoT availability and demand could surge.
4. The lure of data.
One of the most exciting elements of IoT for marketers and tech companies is the sheer amount of data these devices could generate. These are devices being worn by and/or interacted with by consumers on an almost 24/7 basis. With just a few weeks of information, companies could work together to produce highly targeted ads, or help consumers find exactly what they need in various areas of their lives. It’s an enormously lucrative opportunity, but one that’s remained untapped.
Finally, there’s the question of security. Many consumers are afraid to buy into IoT tech for their personal lives, and many tech companies are afraid to delve too far into IoT development just because IoT naturally presents so many points of vulnerability. Devices need to be secured with better software (and constant updates), and users need to be prepped to avoid making mistakes that make them easy targets for cybercriminals.
Where Is IoT Headed?
Based on these factors, where is IoT headed now? What can we expect to see in the market over the next few years?
With the success of smart speakers as “home base” units, and the rush of tech companies trying to take advantage of it, we’ll likely see enormous consolidation within these brands. Google, Amazon, and Apple will all be fighting to control consumer territory, rolling out IoT gadgets that fall in line with their existing services in a bid to win early customer loyalty. That alone will likely spur an increase in available connected consumer products. From there, market behaviors (including data from how these devices are being used) will dictate the next moves from the corporate giants in control of how this technology develops from here.