2018 was an incredible year that was framed by numerous advancements in connectivity, AI, machine learning, and other disruptive technology. Innovations were introduced across industries and applications that highlighted the potential of these technologies. Now that 2019 has started, there is the opportunity to deepen the presence of numerous business of connecting things trends that we, at ReadWrite Labs, and other experts researchers have identified.
- The Smart home is making its way into more homes. More consumers are purchasing smart home assistants as brands like Amazon Echo and Google Home provide affordable options that illustrate the value and convenience these devices offer. Adding to this rising adoption rate in 2019, numerous builders are including this technology in new homes and apartment complexes. By integrating smart home technology features, including thermostats and smart appliances, these homes are ready to be connected to larger networks when smart cities evolve. This includes a variety of better-performing smart home products beyond security and utility control. Also, other companies are looking for ways to integrate their apps and platforms with these devices as well as standardize platforms to facilitate application, which furthers the value of adoption and illustrates the growing acceptance by more industries. Check out the ReadWrite Labs Smart Home landscape here.
- Voice assistants are the new User Interface. Beyond the voice assistants noted in the first trend, there are also voice assistants more commonly used on smartphones like Siri as well as in vehicles. These assistants essentially serve as user interfaces, collecting new types of data and providing a way to interact with companies beyond text formats. Both Google and Amazon are already seeking out other connected devices to partner with to extend their voice assistant capabilities and get a firmer hold on their existing customers. Taking data from more devices means new insights as well as more device development, including applications for areas like toys, training, elder care, health and wellness, fintech, and more.
- Edge computing is a tier in IT infrastructure. The emergence of industries like smart grids, autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and more drive the need for a more secure IT infrastructure to manage how these work. Edge computing provides a way to oversee and use the data directly at the device point (local level) rather than having to send it across a network for analysis. This immediately improves security and privacy by not making the data vulnerable as it crosses a network plus it speeds response time for latent applications like an autonomous vehicle that must make a split-second decision. Also, industry costs are lowered thanks to the more efficient data processing and analysis supplied by edge computing.
- AI will continue to be a force by powering most of the technological advances within IoT. At ReadWrite Labs, we have now put together a graphic that includes more than 600 AI companies and applications now in use across a multitude of industries. The growth in AI at the app level is being propelled mostly by autonomous vehicle development and consumers seeking ways to enjoy more personalized experiences with brands. However, as noted above, the emerging trend of edge computing is also fueling the need to further develop how AI can be used for security and data management.
- Blockchain is set to emerge as a key component of enterprise technology architecture. Advancing this technology within various corporate infrastructure models is tied to specific issues that have challenged companies and government agencies. With more use cases, including those that involve IoT, now available that transcend blockchain as a financial-focused solution, there is more opportunity to develop more diverse applications with this technology. This willingness to explore what blockchain can do may help finally propel it into mainstream adoption during 2019. Check out our Blockchain landscape here
- The future of mobility starts today. The conversation is no longer just about autonomous vehicles or a connected car. Now, there is action around an industry that is forming under the label, mobility, in order to push forward numerous initiatives and developmental stages involving these concepts. Key to this change in 2019 will be more movement in the area of standardization with agreement from numerous companies to stimulate progress. Additionally, new testing areas, such as Last Mile’s autonomous delivery service and Uber’s push into cargo applications highlight advancement in the mobility industry and offer a glimpse of what’s possible.
- APAC drives the industrial Internet. The industrial Internet, which is defined as the extension of IoT applications into industrial sectors and processes, is primarily being developed in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region of the world. Areas of focus in this niche area include automotive, renewable energy, and electronics. The rest of the world may look to this region, specifically places like China, to benchmark how they undertake their digital transformation and adopt an IoT framework for industrial applications.
- IoT is quickly becoming responsible. Since much of what IoT does involve AI, it makes sense that both would move toward a framework of responsibility and ethical decision making simultaneously. The primary reason for the advancement of responsibility as a business development strategy is the advancement of AI into working relationships as seen through the partnership between humans and bots. Also propelling this trend is the need for human beings to know what is happening with their data, how it will be treated without bias, and how it will be protected.
- Retail is being reinvented. Rather than accept a death sentence like some retailers have done, the industry as a whole is committed to reinventing itself, using the very technology that originally threatened its livelihood. Now, retailers are leveraging the ability to use technology to service customers in more ways, including the on-demand trend of purchasing online or via mobile and opting to visit the store to pick up the merchandise. Additionally, new business models like Last Mile, Shipt, and Instacart are helping retailers breathe new life into their businesses, with on-demand product delivery to homes and businesses. Additionally, tapping into the increased availability of comprehensive customer insights through AI-enabled analytics and IoT device data sharing, retailers can respond more quickly to changing customer needs and interests.
- Health-focused technology takes center stage. The growing preference toward wearable devices that monitor health and fitness factors has helped influence the development of more health-focused technology. Additionally, the cost of healthcare and disappointment with current health service experiences are becoming a priority in 2019. Consumers are taking greater control over their own health and care needs as well as looking for providers to undertake digital transformations that involve online scheduling, real-time video conference appointments, and digital forms versus piles of paperwork. In addition to the convenience and time savings, consumers believe that these changes should also lower the cost of their healthcare. With healthcare providers and access to more data insights, they should also see improvement in service delivery, cost reductions, and faster diagnoses.
During a Webinar in December 2018, we shared a list of ten key trends that both our participants and our research have identified as ones to watch in 2019. These 10 technology predictions run the gamut from known concepts like mobility, digital transformation, and big data to emerging “smart” tech, ConsumerX, and more.
Webinar participants also shared their outlook on 2019 in terms of the trends impacting their businesses. While many of the responses reflected the trends already listed here, another input was more specific in terms of the type of technology they planned to adopt or further investigate this year. Security and safety systems top the list followed by audiovisual and software platform investment. Also, the increased adoption of smart energy initiatives, including HVAC and lighting systems, illustrated the business focus on lowering energy costs and becoming more environmentally sensitive.
The overall theme in these trends is the growing acceptance and interest in technologies like business and consumer connectivity to address the need for personalization, security, efficiency, and responsibility. Going forward, we’ll watch these trends as they evolve and regularly share updates on their progress.