The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is now valued at more than $300 billion, and it is likely to continue growing for years to come. It encompasses the objects we install or wear with sensors and tracking devices that continually collect large amounts of data to be stored and analyzed. There are more than 21 billion sensors connected worldwide.
In 2022, bandwidth explosion enabled by 5G will provide the foundation and rails for a new group of devices to hop on the IoT bandwagon. I predict these industries will be the trailblazers:
• Retail checkout and payments.
• Logistics and delivery.
• Autonomous vehicles.
• Emergency services.
WHAT’S DRIVING THE GROWTH?
Convenience is king. So is knowledge. One of the two (but likely a combination of both) is what makes the IoT so valuable to people. We live in the transitional time between when people dreamed about “someday” when delivery robots could place packages on their doorstep and their car could drive itself—and those things becoming ubiquitous. Humans seem to be equal parts terrified and excited about these realities.
The current worker shortage, fueled by the pandemic in so many ways, is creating an environment in which people are not just willing to consider letting a robot do a person’s job—it may become necessary for some businesses to survive.
Quality of life is a huge driving factor, too. Our naturally more sedentary lifestyles mean that the fitness industry isn’t going anywhere. Health-tracking wearables are advantageous for so many of us. Not only do we receive valuable data about our health, but we also have the ability to summon help if we need it when we’re out running solo. Purchasing these devices is more than just keeping up with a trend—it’s buying peace of mind.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
If you have a motion-activated security system, you probably know what it’s like to be woken up at night because someone walked by your house. I believe this is just one of many applications where we are going to see facial recognition technology continue to explode. It may make some people nervous, but when that face is on the other side of the door to your home, you’ll likely feel differently.
Robots implemented in food service are also gaining momentum and may ease the huge burden of staffing that the industry is currently experiencing. Early studies show that food delivery via robot, compared to human delivery, could cut restaurants’ delivery costs by 50%.
The wireless bandwidth explosion, in homes and elsewhere, is very attractive in the sense that there are fewer wires. It’s truly the little things in life, isn’t it? Less visible wire clutter, simplified installation, and a more controlled user experience can make even the most hesitant consumer a believer. A good experience almost always translates to strong adoption.
My advice to business leaders is to look beyond the growth to identify the cracks that will emerge. These cracks will create reputational and business risks, and failing to pay attention to them will not be worth the time saved. Invest in new talent and retrained talent. Ensure the people in your organization have a good grasp of these concepts. It’s not easy or cheap to retrain people, but those who can get ahead of the curve in expanding adult education will reap the profits. If you are seeing upheaval in your industry, consider your options. This is the Wild West, the gold rush. Those who are seeking a longer-term career in IoT industries will be rewarded if they play their cards right.
Privacy will continue to be one of the biggest concerns in 2022 from pretty much everyone’s standpoint. Rightfully so. We are talking about how every part of one’s personal and business life can be found, used, and potentially abused. But in many ways, these devices also improve our lives, making them safer and more secure. This will continue to be a painful discussion point until it’s not—we have not arrived at our destination of comfort yet when it comes to these concerns.
Change is always hard. The move from older infrastructure will take time, and it’ll be expensive. Both the government and the private sector will need to work together to accelerate these standards of safety and security and implement them before it is too late.
As our quality of life continues to improve with these conveniences, we’d be wise to take the time to reflect (preferably on the beach) on the gifts they’ve given us. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll agree that part of what makes this life so great is the opportunity to get back on the horse and make things even better.
Par Chadha is Founder, CEO, and CIO of HGM Fund, managing investments in the financial technology, health technology, and communications industries.