For the last several years, market demand in the Internet of Things industry has been growing faster than innovation can keep up. According to a forecast from Accenture, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), alone, has the potential to add as much as $14.2T to the global economy. “The total installed base of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices is projected to amount to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years,” according to Statista.
These predictions reveal a major area of opportunities for entrepreneurs, corporations, and governments alike to create meaningful, profitable, and impactful products. For passionate engineers and tech-minded creators, the Internet of Things landscape represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform imagination into a new reality.
If you’re interested in building a product for this booming market—but aren’t sure where to start—the following trends will help you navigate your first steps.
The time to “think big” is now
If you’re a professional in the tech industry, you’re likely focused on your day-to-day job. Your world likely consists of deadlines, your team, and your personal responsibilities. What you may not see is that your actions, every day—whether or not you realize it—have the potential to transform the world.
That’s because every human being on planet earth, according to the World Economic Forum, is living through a Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s a societal trend that’s both under the radar and definitional of the upcoming decade.
“The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organizations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions,” wrote Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum in an introduction to his book.
It may be hard to see when you’re in the trenches, but as a technologist, your decisions have the potential to build the future of the world. Companies like Arable Labs are doing exactly that. By inventing a simple crop monitoring sensor, Arable has helped the global agriculture industry create new pathways to preventing crop failures on a global scale.
Thinking big, for Arable, meant building a small device that can deliver real-time analytics to people making decisions in agriculture.
Social issues will orient growth
The Internet of Things has the potential to impact every major commercial sector—something as simple as a sensor has the potential to improve outcomes in medicine, improve safety in manufacturing, and increase efficiencies for harvesting solar energy.
That’s why Gartner predicts that in 2020 and beyond, Internet of Things innovation will happen in-tandem with the development of governance and regulatory frameworks.
“Gartner noted that as the IoT grows, governance frameworks will likely emerge to establish and enforce rules around the creation, storage, use, and deletion of information around IoT implementations,” wrote Frederic Paul for IDG’s Network World. “Those rules could range from regulating technical issues such as device audits and firmware updates to deeply complex questions around who controls IoT devices and the data they generate.”
People > technology
There’s an invisible yet powerful force driving the need for innovation in the Internet of Things—it’s people. According to research from Cisco, the average number of devices and connections per person in North America is expected to rise from 8 in 2017 to 13.6 by 2022. That means that humans of all walks of life will develop habits and routines around integrating devices into their daily lives.
“Just as important, the conventions for human-IoT interactions—usually without screens and keyboards—are still being established,” writes Paul. “Despite the recent rise of voice-controlled digital assistants, it’s still too soon to know exactly what kinds of IoT user experience metaphors will gain traction and which will fall by the wayside.”
Technologists who build Internet of Things-related products are wise to remember that they’re setting the standard for what the future will become—and human needs will always take priority.