The top 5 IoT trends 2021

According to the recent “Internet of Things 2021” study by IDG Research Services in partnership with Device Insight, COVID-19 couldn’t stop investing in IoT. On the contrary: 42 percent of companies increased their investments, even during the pandemic. A total of 91 percent plan to do so in the coming year. This shows emphatically how important digitization and the Internet of Things are. But where are these investments going? Here we present the five most important IoT trends for 2021.

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Home office in the smart factory – remote service & predictive maintenance

It’s not only service sector companies that are making their employees use home office during the pandemic. Thanks to IoT, many companies in the manufacturing industry have also been able to take this step. Made possible by remote service and predictive maintenance, both of which have long been regarded as the prime example of IoT applications in industry. On the one hand, technicians have worldwide access to a machine network and are therefore able to eliminate faults and carry out maintenance work. On the other, predictive maintenance makes troubleshooting possible even before the damage occurs. This technological innovation saves companies the cost of time-consuming service and maintenance. At the same time enables employees to work remotely.

More and more companies will recognize this potential this year, guaranteeing growth for this trend.

Artificial Intelligence meets IoT

In addition to predictive maintenance, the focus is also shifting to the holistic improvement of production processes. Through artificial intelligence, production processes can be automatically and continuously optimized with the help of machine learning methods.

However, this technology can only develop its full potential if sufficient high-quality data is available. This is where the Internet of Things comes in. The combination of both technologies into an “Artificial Intelligence of Things” reduces deviations from the optimum in the manufacturing process and thus ensures improved performance, less waste and lower costs. So far, only a few companies have deployed AIoT. That will change in 2021.

COVID-19 as IoT driver

The Internet of Things is playing out its many advantages, especially in times of pandemic, and is being used in numerous different applications for prevention and health protection. Intelligent sensors can prevent the spread of the virus and increase security, especially in buildings, for example in schools, public buildings or even in companies. By means of an alarm, a sensor notifies when the CO2 value in the air is too high or the maximum number of people in the room has been reached. Intelligent sensors can also be used in the form of wearables and take over the measurement of heart rate or oxygen saturation. In the event of unusual values, an alarm will be activated, notifying the doctor in charge.

Another example: Based on GPS live location data, visitor numbers, e.g. in museums or shops, can be viewed or virtual queues can be used to save time and avoid unnecessary contact. 2021 will surely see more use cases where the Internet of Things is used to fight the pandemic.

Pay-per-use and equipment-as-a-service models

More and more companies are recognizing the Internet of Things as an opportunity to minimize investment costs and risks. Key to this are new IoT-based pay-per-use or equipment-as-a-service models. The best thing about this is, a company is no longer required to buy a machine or system, but only its productive output. Instead of high initial costs, recurring, smaller expenses are incurred for ongoing operations – a shift from CAPEX to OPEX.

At the same time, any risk is kept low with maximum flexibility for future scaling. Definitely a business model that will most likely soon be a success story in the industry.

Real-time transmission – 5G and uRRLC

Although 5G may currently still be in its infancy, 86 percent of companies are already planning to integrate 5G, according to IDG Research Services. The first pilot tests are already underway. Above all, the high bandwidth and transmission quality make this innovation attractive for many companies.

The combination of 5G and Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Communication (uRLLC), a possible application profile of the mobile network, enables very short latency and robust connections. This combination will play a central role as an enabler of digitalization in the industry.

To conclude

Last year already showed that the Internet of Things is unstoppable and the signs for 2021 are also pointing towards growth. Application examples such as predictive maintenance and AIoT are gaining importance in industrial manufacturing. New business models such as pay-per-use and equipment-as-a-service and the new mobile communications standard 5G are also making their way into companies. At the same time, COVID-19 is emerging as another IoT growth driver. As we already experienced in 2020, health is the most important commodity. IoT will become a game changer in this area as well.

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