4 Ways IoT Will Change the World in 2021

December 31, 2020
4 Ways IoT Will Change the World in 2021

2020 proved to be a turbulent year across almost all industries. The COVID-19 pandemic has largely impacted all our lives in one way or another. For business, it has been both a curse as well as a spark of inspiration, especially in employing new technologies to adapt to or even capitalize on our “new normal.” IoT connectivity is one of these integral players at the heart of this business transformation.

While we have seen IoT already impact several business practices in 2020, we look at four trends that are expected to have further impact on the employment of IoT in the new year.

  1. 5G: The long-awaited 5G promises new capabilities for IoT, delivering super-fast Internet connectivity, which is reliable and predictable across the cellular spectrum. Although full implementation of 5G across the wide-area network is still some time away, we can expect to see businesses using private 5G networks to boost communication efficiency and develop greater visibility to monitor and track assets. By using small cell infrastructure, companies will be able to pinpoint whatever is most important to them with sub-meter accuracy in their buildings or across their campuses. Nokia was the first to introduce the standalone 5G network, claiming that it “promises transformative possibilities for every industry and application” and cannot be matched by previous cellular networking technology. The integration of 5G into the cellular ecosystem will cause the inevitable evolution of IoT to 5G Massive IoT.
  2. Asset Tracking: From healthcare and retail to manufacturing and logistics, asset tracking is increasingly seen as a fundamental and trusted tool for boosting business efficiency. Knowing the location of where expensive equipment or parts are in a factory, warehouse or plant is necessary for any business. Here are some use cases in which asset tracking will be utilized in 2021.
    1. Healthcare: In the healthcare industry, hospitals will be able to locate critical, high-value equipment on the premises with even more precision and create geofences where necessary to set alarms upon movement. If a private 5G network is applied over the hospital premises, users can pinpoint the exact location of equipment, whether it’s a different floor level or in a separate building – this saves time and resources that would otherwise be wastefully spent searching for those items.
    2. Supply Chain: At the beginning or end of a supply chain, companies that use large warehouses or factories to house equipment will be able to locate assets indoors or outdoors, while having the full visibility of the asset in-between origin and destination. Employing 5G in the warehouses can accentuate precision accuracy where it is needed most.
    3. Retail: The retail industry has also had to make immense changes in how it functions on a day-to-day basis with customer and worker safety spearheading the evolution. Non-essential shops that were subject to close their doors to tackle COVID-19 have predominantly switched to online retail, whereas essential shops have had to stay open to meet the basic needs of local communities. In 2021, we should expect to see new, innovative systems that aim to minimize unnecessary human contact in retail. This may include IoT tags being used by customers to maintain social distancing in stores or for decision making with regard to stock replenishment and replacement.
  3. AI and ML: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have the ability to enhance business practices to adapt to their environment, which is essential in the era of COVID-19. Now more than ever, organizations intelligently use data, analyze valuable information, and utilize derived knowledge for better decision making. In 2021, we can expect to see these capabilities surge and evolve especially due to the fast rate they are being used and implemented. One major benefit from improved AI would be the simplification of data examination, leading to more valuable insights being attained from complex data sets.
  4. AR: Finally, fueling possibilities for nascent IoT technological development and application is Augmented Reality (AR). In the context of IoT, AR has been adopted in manufacturing and supply chains due to on-site worker limitations imposed by the pandemic. Instead of sending a worker or third-party specialist to repair a piece of equipment at the warehouse or factory, employees can now perform the same procedures without the need for a service visit by using remote-controlled devices with sensors. AR is a trend that we will see more of in 2021, as it doesn’t just protect employees from potential infection, but also minimizes risk of injury at the workplace, making casualty insurance a lot more affordable.

Now, individually or with the confluence of these trends working together, we will see the significant impact on how businesses employ IoT for their respective use cases in 2021, as well as subsequently continue to change the world and how we interact with it.

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