IoT has been one of the most talked-about trends within the digital era. This year it has taken on new precedence as the pandemic’s emergence changed the way we live and work.
As we approach 2021 and prepare to say goodbye to an extremely turbulent year, let’s look ahead to the future and the IoT trends that will drive business and technology changes in the future.
In 2021 businesses will begin to realize that IoT is not just a hype or another buzzword but a technology with true potential to transform industries. Utilizing insight from multiple industry publications and our own internal business expertise, we have identified the following major IoT related trends we expect to see in 2021.
It’s Still About “The Edge”
If you are involved in the IoT world, you may be thinking, “hasn’t this been a trend for the past few years?”––well, yes, and for a good reason.
With edge computing, instead of sending the data through the network to a centralized data center, the processing and analysis are done at the edge of a network, reducing transportation time and latency. This makes it possible for data to be accessed and analyzed in near real-time — a compelling driver for many organizations that need to react quickly. Edge computing also reduces bandwidth costs as information processing is performed at the source, reducing data traffic to centralized data centers.
While not new, data processing at the edge will likely continue to grow in importance, fueled by the emergence of 5G, increased connected devices globally, and growth of data generated.
Increase in Remote Operations Use Cases
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many manufacturers, distributors, utilities, and pharmaceutical companies have had to adapt their strategies and fast track their digital transformation efforts to adapt to new regulations requiring remote working.
Previously unconnected assets have been connected to enable remote operations and continuation to serve customers. In 2021, it is expected that we will continue to see growth in the adoption of technology such as IoT for use cases related to remote monitoring of equipment and assets.
Predictive (Not Reactive) Maintenance
According to the Vanson Bourne Research Study, 82 percent of companies have experienced unplanned downtime over the past three years — the cost of this downtime can be high, estimated to equate to roughly a loss of $250k an hour.
Historically, maintenance has been performed reactively in response to a failure — although initially the least expensive solution, this is potentially the most financially detrimental approach. Many organizations have since adopted preventive maintenance programs, which rely on routine, planned maintenance on equipment.
Predictive maintenance is the newest approach that utilizes data gathered from control systems and connected sensors. With the right data, companies can track key indicators of equipment and machinery wear to predict and prevent unplanned downtime and expensive maintenance.
In 2021, we will see a greater shift in strategy towards predictive maintenance to improve operations and optimize costs.
IoT Empowering Digital Twins
The theory of digital twins was first conceptualized in 2002. Digital twins are virtual representations of a process, object, or system that function in the same way as their real-life counterparts. We expect that as connected assets grow, digital twins will gain traction, too — visualizing all data points from connected sensors in digital twin format allows for a more holistic view of the performance of the physical object and provides insights into potential problems.
Advanced Data Analytics
IoT’s true benefit is not going to come from data alone but rather the analytics on top that generates useful insights and helps businesses make smart and informed decisions.
As the amount of data generated increases, analytics will become more important — advanced solutions driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning will improve the processing of vast amounts and varied data structures.