Although 2020 was marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, which still looms over us, IoT is attracting interest from an increasing number of companies and investors, who now see services and data as central to their connected projects.
With the health crisis fast-tracking the digital transformation in businesses, what trends and outlook lie ahead in 2021?
A strange 2020 due to the pandemic
Although most analysts predicted 50 billion connected objects in 2020, there are only 9.4 billion of them today. Sensitive questions related to the interoperability, security, and sustainability of devices, coupled with the pandemic and its resulting production and supply challenges, have pumped the brakes on projects and put a damper on ambitions.
However, the IoT and software platform sector is still holding ground thanks to ongoing enthusiasm for smart devices for homes and businesses, triggering many new uses and an increased appetite for related services.
From IoT (Internet of Things) to IoB (Internet of Behaviors)
According to Gartner, the internet of behaviors (IoB), automation, and engineering are among the key strategic technologies for IT leaders in 2021. But there’s a difference because, although the IoB is technically possible, it is expected to give rise to numerous ethical and societal debates.
On the topic of automation, Andrea Siviero of IDC says, “Although the current pandemic forced many organizations to pause some innovative IoT deployments, IoT will be a key ‘return to growth’ accelerator with selected use cases being safe bets for end users to focus on in order to reach a new level of automation, remote everywhere experience, and hyper-connectivity.”
Rethinking spaces and uses
From remote work to third-party sites, flex space, and coworking offices, the list of new ways of working continues to grow, with the Covid-19 pandemic speeding up their transformation. Many business sectors have made remote work their norm, and companies have had to find solutions to revive and rethink their office spaces as they reopened their doors. Ultimately, business properties will have to evolve in order to adapt to these new challenges, and this involves a larger variety of uses and services within buildings. The goal? Increasing well-being and improving the experience for occupants. Last November, the Smart Building Alliance held an online conference focused on optimizing spaces in the non-residential sector. It was an opportunity to discuss some trends and developments related to smart buildings.
No longer limited to square meters, buildings are becoming productive ecosystems, made up of homes, third-party sites, and corporate headquarters. Management methods are evolving, too. It is no longer a matter of simple building management, but rather cross-management of an entire ecosystem inside and outside the walls, comprised of men and women who create value. IoT is among the solutions that will lead to improved organization, greater efficiency, and a better balance between personal and work life.
Services at the heart of IoT challenges
Mobility and connectivity now contribute to the performance and flexibility of uses, spaces, services, and the environment, and technological solutions are merging with consumer use management. We’re seeing a convergence between the technical digitalization of buildings and that of uses. In new builds and renovations alike, services need to be implemented beyond the building itself, both upstream and downstream. IoT and AI are technologies that promote this trend, enabling real-time management of the diverse populations that use spaces and helping to handle questions like who, where, and how much.
The challenge lies in the ability of market players to break out of the prism of the standalone building and learn to deal with broader issues. Because a building’s technological needs differ from those of its users, it is important to think in terms of crossfunctional uses and technologies (carbon footprint, management, and building comfort), as well as the perspective of occupants (meeting room management, comfort, and building IT).
While coworking, co-living, and nomadism are new in 2020 and 2021, other uses may emerge in the coming years. We have to have the ability to merge different technological solutions to address the uses of today and tomorrow. On this topic, Overkiz continues to break down boundaries between technologies and uses, while meeting regulatory, legal, and environmental requirements. If there’s one word to remember in the coming years, it’s this: OPENNESS. Platforms will have to operate much more broadly, and it’s the overall consistency across platforms that will make it possible to manage the abundance of uses. And, in turn, to think on the scale of neighborhoods and cities and not buildings alone.
Four forecasts for 2021
- 3%: average annual growth rate of the IoT market between 2020 and 2024, as estimated by IDC
- 520 billion: projected global revenues (in dollars) related to IoT in 2021, according to Bain & Company
- 100% of new homes sold in 2021 will come connected
- 387 billion: value (in dollars) of the smart home market (up 5% compared to the pre-COVID19 forecast), according to ABI Research