What are the IoT Trends in 2021?

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Björn Burbach
Björn Burbach
January 14, 2021
13 minutes
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The Internet of Things (IoT) has become one of the key tech trends in recent years. By connecting devices to collect and share data, IoT is one of the strongest enablers to accelerate digital transformation. So, whether you are considering to improve your factory’s production capacity, the maintenance of rail systems, or urban live support systems – from transportation and health, to energy consumption and safety, the adoption of IoT technology will provide tremendous benefits for business and society.
Based on our experience with clients, we at Siemens Advanta analyzed the top IoT business trends regarding relevant markets and technologies empowering you to leverage these IoT future trend insights when embarking on your digital transformation journey in 2021.

 

1. IoT Enabled Remote Operations

Manufacturing companies traditionally depend on human presence to physically operate their machines – especially when there are issues that need onsite fixing. With advancing factory digitalization, IoT emerging solutions will become relevant in this regard resulting in less need for human to human interaction. This IoT business trend increases people’s safety, raises efficiency, and reduces costs. Once you have your devices connected, remote monitoring and asset management can be easily handled from remote locations. Our Underground Network Solutions are a best practice example how metropolitan cities can use IoT solutions for predictive and prescriptive maintenance purposes and beyond. And the opportunities are endless, adding for example Robotics and Drones to improve and automate business processes.

2. Artificial Intelligence meets IoT: AIoT

Our second IoT business trend already is and will be even more the power couple of the year: AIoT. The Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) combines AI with IoT – two independent, powerful technologies which accelerate each other’s capabilities.

But why is it so revolutionary? While IoT digitizes the physical world and brings data together, AI uses that data to make sense out of the big amount of information and to control the overall system. Empowered by Machine Learning (ML), it supports the overall data analytics process and data management. Our projects proof that the marriage of these two technologies makes perfect sense – more than that, it’s inevitable in order to achieve real business benefit. The combined forces open doors for new use cases and business opportunities. And the trend is upward. According to Gartner, 80% of IoT projects will have an AI component by 2022. Our clients know: IoT is good, AIoT is even better.

3. All Eyes on Medical Care IoT

The healthcare industry holds one of the most significant investment opportunities for IoT technology ventures. We have observed its growth for years as investors keep leveraging better diagnostic and treatment ideas. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot more attention to the sector, and several digital health innovations emerged in 2020 in response to it. These IoT related solutions include applications that help with contact tracing, remote diagnostics and remote patient monitoring. We anticipate that the IoT new trends in this sector in 2020 will still be relevant in 2021, especially with the emerging need for vaccine cold chain management. These innovations will stay with us even beyond 2021 and will keep addressing various other health care challenges – supporting our ability to manage healthcare systems effectively.

 

4. IoT Enabled Sustainability

With our society currently challenged with enormous environmental issues, there has been increased pressure for businesses to adopt sustainable practices – a trend pushed by various policy initiatives such as the European Green Deal which aims at making Europe climate neutral by 2050. Working with our clients, we see the rising demand to integrate environmentally friendly solutions. The target is to save resources and raise efficiency: Do more with less! We are convinced that the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and IoT will be key to serving that sustainability purpose.

There are already a good number of dedicated IoT solutions that help leverage smart data to maximize city potential as well as unlock the power of digital technology for increased sustainability and efficiency. And we project that by utilizing more data generated from such IoT solutions, it will become possible to improve emergency response times, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve quality of life.

5. Edge Computing Gains an Edge

In edge computing, data is not sent to the cloud for analysis and processing, but it’s analyzed as it is received on-device. This way, businesses deliver large amounts of data, ensuring real-time analytical readiness using a tailored data model. Edge computing is not a new kid on the block, but the demand for this technology and its applications has dramatically risen over the last year, especially with the rising amount of cyber-attacks. It’s time for the supply to catch up and keep its critical infrastructure safe. 

The pre-2020 networks were not designed to accommodate the 2020 style of conducting business. In 2021, we anticipate that businesses will demand more edge computing solutions as their structures change from the bottom up, which will lead to more innovative solutions. Businesses that make use of this technology are likely to gain an edge, develop opportunities, increase responsiveness and thrive in times of disruption.

6. Step it up: Hyperautomation

Robotic process automation (RPA) is not a new phenomenon. More and more companies are relying on RPA technologies, but it often remains with the automation of isolated processes. The big challenge lies in the scalability and a company-wide, holistic use of RPA. This is where Hyperautomation goes a step further. Hyperautomation, a Gartner-influenced term, refers to an approach that combines robotics with other technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Everything that can be automated, should be automated. The ideal state is an all-encompassing, intelligent integration; a "digital twin" of all process and thus of one's own organization with visualized processes, metrics and data analysis. 

Hyperautomation is a concept that increases a company's competitiveness and positions it to be more resilient and robust – especially important in times of crisis. It has immense potential, which will become increasingly important in 2021, and beyond. Thus, it is our well-deserved IoT emerging trend number 6.

7. Smart(er) Cities

With IoT technologies now being used to monitor traffic, operate public amenities, and manage buildings, smart cities are no longer a thing of the future. There are countless applications of IoT in the automation of cities, a concept that we are already making a reality through our Siemens Digital City Solution. In 2021, we anticipate that this IoT emerging trend will continue to grow, as local governments realize smart cities are more resilient and better equipped to deal with unforeseen large-scale crises.

Two areas where this shift will be very visible is smart public transport and energy management. For example, IoT technologies are expected to provide a better understanding of the need of citizens and their patterns of movement.  Our smart city solution, Campus Control Center, is already addressing many of these challenges.

8. Smart Food Production

It’s estimated that food demand will increase between 59% to 98% by 2050. Although this might sound overwhelming, smart farming and agricultural IoT emerging trends provide us with a way out. IoT technologies have already been helping farmers beat climate uncertainty, crop disease, and increase yields exponentially for a while. These innovations also help farmers minimize costs by properly managing resources such as fertilizer or water, which can significantly increase profits while avoiding to harm to the environment.

In 2021 and beyond, we will witness the increased use of the Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology in smart agriculture. This technology is great for collecting data about the weather, soil moisture and chemical compositions of the soil at a significantly lower cost compared to traditional methods. And finally, let’s not forget about controlled environment agriculture (CEA). It’s is expected to boost food production by allowing crop farming in areas that would otherwise be naturally unsuitable.

9. Blockchain and IoT

In recent years, IoT and blockchain have been rising to fame side by side.  So, it comes as no surprise that these two fields have the potential to significantly empower each other.

The rise of IoT adoption has been coupled with some security and data reliability concerns. Interestingly, the 2020 COVID-19 crisis has pushed businesses towards a speedier IoT adoption, leaving these concerns on the sidelines. As 2020 was the year of quick adoption, 2021 is likely to be the year when security catches up to it. Here is when blockchain steps in. Blockchain is synonymous with data integrity and its combination with IoT can reveal many business opportunities. It can enhance IoT by its unique way of sharing that ensures information is reliable and traceable. Sources of data can be easily identified, and data remains unchangeable – increasing trust in IoT.
This power couple can facilitate numerous end-to-end solution opportunities throughout 2021, so definitely stay on the lookout for that.

10. Smart & Resilient Business through IoT

The events around the coronavirus pandemic have shown how vulnerable our society is. Once again, those who took care of their company's digital strategy in time have emerged as "winners". In a recent study, 84% of respondents claim that IoT was a critical factor for business continuity. Fortunately, times of crisis have the characteristics to catalyze developments. This is also the case in the field of IoT and digitalization. In fact, it has been confirmed that Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of IoT.

In times of massive disruption, technological evolution, and unforeseen events, it is up to the companies to build processes and systems that enable the entire enterprise to be agile. Resilient businesses are able to quickly adapt to changing situations and adjust their business processes. They must be empowered to make quick decisions based on data. The availability, processing and analysis of data is crucial here for rapid responsiveness, and this is where IoT and, above all, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a decisive role.

IoT future trends promise to improve efficiency and growth in various fields with a significant impact on both economy and society. To remain relevant and competitive, it is crucial for businesses to take action and take the first steps in order to leverage the opportunities that IoT provides today – and even more in the future.

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Björn Burbach
Björn Burbach
Partner Digital Cities - Mobility and Logistics EMEA
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