The sheer number of connectivity options available for IoT networks will create chaos in the coming year, according to a newly released set of predictions from Forrester Research.
As there’s no single connectivity option that meets every use case for IoT, businesses should expect to navigate a landscape that includes proprietary low-power options like Zigbee, unlicensed standards like Bluetooth, both public and private varieties of 5G, Wi-Fi, and even satellite in order to make deployments work.
2021 will actually see uptake rates for 5G and Wi-Fi slow substantially as a result of the disjointed IoT connectivity market, and some of that spending will go to satellite and other low-power options, which should see 20% more interest next year, Forrester says in “Predictions 2021: Internet Of Things (IoT)”.
Much of that interest--which, presumably, translates into usage and sales--could be in the healthcare market, as the spread of COVID-19 prompted substantial investment increases in digital and remote health technology, according to the analysts. Wearables and remote sensors to assess patients’ health at home are suddenly more relevant than ever thanks to the pandemic. Consumer interest is on the rise thanks to the convenience factor, and insurers like the ability to have additional data about their patients and their possible outcomes, according to Forrester.
Elsewhere, while the overall use of office space seems set to remain historically low--more fallout from the pandemic--companies that do plan to return to their offices in the anticipation of COVID-19 levels eventually dropping could implement a lot of IoT applications to keep employees safe and improve efficiency. Forrester cites smart lighting, environmental monitoring, sensor-based activity monitoring, and space-utilization systems as potential smart office use cases for IoT.
Finally, 2021 is the year when connected machines cross into the mainstream of industrial use. While connected machinery has been around for a long time, Forrester said that, until recently, many users have been reluctant to use those connected devices to their fullest capability. Once again, COVID-19 has prompted change.
“Customers who demanded regular visits from their OEM’s engineers now enjoy the convenience of machines that call home for help, engaging remote experts to walk through repairs without protracted downtime and expensive travel,” the report said.
The more in-depth models of industrial IoT use, like predictive maintenance and business-as-a-service, will follow in widespread uptake as the basic connectivity becomes more and more common, Forrester said.