Whether you like it or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that the internet of things – also known as IoT – is changing the way we live.

It seems like virtually every aspect of our lives has been digitised in recent years; it’s now possible to boil your kettle, turn on the lights, open your garage and start cooking your evening meal without leaving the office.

In the business world, IoT is having an even bigger impact.

As we look to automate menial tasks in our workload and encourage workers to be more creative and forward-thinking, the truth is that there’s no knowing where we’re going to be in five years time. What we do know for sure, however, is that companies will be more agile, computerised and efficient than ever.

By connecting anything with an ‘on’ button to the web, we’re able to communicate with each other and our devices on a deeper level, and the possibilities are endless. But where are we headed next? Below, we’ve put together six of the biggest trends we expect to see in 2020.

 

More IoT than humans

By the end of 2019, there will be more than 3.7 billion connected IoT devices, but that figure is expected to increase significantly as more consumers and businesses look to embrace internet-enabled devices.

According to the McKinsey Institute, IoT devices will have a major impact on the world economy, being used to manage virtually every aspect of our lives.

If the IoT market continues to grow at its current pace, it’s expected that there will be more IoT devices than human beings by the end of 2020, as we automate and digitise more of our everyday tasks, whether it’s booking an appointment, securing our homes, or monitoring our children from our phones. That represents major opportunities for businesses in the sector.

 

IoT in the office

We’ve seen a huge increase in smart homes over the past five years, with every man and his dog investing in a Google Home or Amazon Alexa and going “smart”.

In the United Kingdom, around 20.6% of homes can be considered “smart” but that figure will rise to almost 40% by 2023, with more of us investing in IoT technology as we remodel our homes.

But the benefits of smart home appliances are no longer exclusive to homes – businesses are now taking advantage of automation, introducing smart video cameras, smart energy hubs and thermostats to save money and increase their efficiency.

And as new products enter the market to automate more tasks, including automated call answering services, we could see the industry explode in more ways than one, unlocking huge market potential.

 

IoT in healthcare

Another sector where IoT is expected is in healthcare. Already dependent on technology and software, we predict that there will be a significant rise in ‘smart’ hospitals where patients can be monitored remotely through wearables and sensors, whilst staff can be monitored via GPS to reduce wait times and ensure that the right people are seen by the right doctors.

Private healthcare companies are already experimenting with technology such as smart pills which can collect data on medication and the inside of the body to improve decision-making and reduce waste, and outside of the hospital, nursing homes and private care companies are rolling out new apps and devices to keep track of their patients and reduce their costs.

Robot nurses are already being trialled, and at home, companies are developing apps that allow consumers to keep an eye on their elderly relatives without having to pay for a carer.

 

Growth of voice

Today, 20% of all searches on Google are conducted via voice, and that figure will only climb as more of us introduce smart hubs and speaker systems into our homes.

And whilst Siri and Google Assistant may fall short of our human expectations right now, they are continuing to grow and develop, offering a more human-like experience.

Google and Amazon each record millions of hours worth of voice searches every day, and through artificial intelligence, voice processing, and machine learning, they’re building capable machines that will become truly significant in the years ahead.

Neuro-linguistic programming, for example, allows computers to understand the meaning of our voice, giving them a deeper knowledge of underlying tone and sarcasm, which will reduce the frustration and current pain points we have with the current smart assistants.

According to Juniper Research, there’ll be more than eight million digital voice assistants in use by 2023, a figure that has grown from seed in less than five years.

Software can already distinguish between voices, and because manufacturers only need to add a microphone to a device to take advantage of voice recognition, it’s a relatively inexpensive add-on that will be the norm in the years to come.

Though voice-activated toasters might sound silly right now, we’ll expect to use our voice to control virtually every aspect of our home in the 2020s, and companies who take advantage of that fact and integrate the right voice recognition software today will benefit the most.

 

Artificial intelligence

With so many devices in our homes and businesses, we’re creating more data than ever. In fact, the International Data Corporation suggests that IoT devices will generate 80 zettabytes of data of year by 2025, but it’s what companies do with that data that’s really important.

In the years ahead, humans will rely more on artificial intelligence to analyse and interpret our requests and commands, making processes more efficient and reducing the effort needed on our side.

And that data can benefit virtually every industry, from healthcare and entertainment through to distribution and banking – the more data companies have, the more advanced our future IoT devices could be, potentially costing millions of jobs in the process.

 

Privacy concerns

One of the biggest challenges the IoT market will face in 2020 and beyond is in privacy.

We’ve already seen huge scandals in the IoT market, with Amazon, Google, and Apple all having to come out and apologise for the way they hold onto customer data and analyse the way we interact with our voices.

In the years that follow, companies must demonstrate that they are serious about our security and bake-in features that prevent data theft and misuse.

Whether you’re developing a new app for your business that works on Google Home devices or you have created your own IoT technology, make privacy a priority to win the trust of your consumers and bake transparency and security into your mission statement and marketing.

 

There you have it – six of the biggest trends for the Internet of Things market for 2020 and beyond. Which of these do you think will impact your business the most? Join in the conversation over on our Twitter page and check back soon for more from the Zudu team.

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