Since the creation of the first web page, the connected world has been constantly changing at a rapid pace, speeding its way through Web 2.0 and propelling us into the future. That future is now. The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking shape, and it's ushering in the third major evolution of the internet.
If you don't catch the wave, you could miss out on the Internet of Things and the huge boom that's coming for entrepreneurs in nearly every industry.
Take a look at just a few powerful data points on the Internet of Things:
- Parks Associates analysts expect that almost 55 million smart home devices will be sold to U.S. broadband households in 2020.
- According to a study conducted by the International Data Corporation, IoT spending is expected to reach $1.29 Trillion by 2020.
While 2016 was a big year for IoT, 2017 will be even bigger. Positioning yourself early is everything when it comes to capitalizing on the next evolution of the internet. Here are the top trends you can expect to see in 2017.
Voice assistants will dominate product sales
Amazon's success with Echo and Alexa, the speaker's virtual voice assistant, has been astounding. There's little doubt that Amazon has penetrated the mass market, with Echo finding its way into the hands of owners who wouldn't even know to call it a Smart Home product.
This trend will continue in a big way. The Google Home voice-activated speaker and personal assistant is growing the product category in terms of both sales and innovation. While Amazon has the advantage of having made the first move, Google Home is offering a deep integration into digital life by syncing directly with the owner's Google account. It also benefits from Google's extensive experience in machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analysis. Also, look for Microsoft to make similar moves with Cortana.
Smart City will be the new Smart Home
Visions of the Smart City are starting to materialize as CTO's for major municipalities are coming to understand how Internet of Things products and services can provide cost savings, increase quality of life and promote safety in urban environments. Keep an eye out for the appearance of smart lighting, connected streets, smart parking, smart meters, connected apartments and on-demand services in the most innovative cities.
Hardware-based hubs have a hard time
Hub-based ecosystems were all the rage three years ago. The rise in virtual-assistants, however, is threatening hub-based platforms.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that voice-driven assistants (like Amazon's Alexa and the Google Home) connect to devices in the cloud and therefore don't require an additional array of radios inside a separate hub. Secondly, more and more routers are being equipped with wireless capabilities like Z-wave, Zigbee and BLE, which further reduce the need for additional hardware.
The Smart Home will go mainstream
The success of Amazon's Echo rapidly accelerated the adoption of Smart Home technology for everyday consumers, but it's not the only reason that mass consumers are embracing the concept of the Smart Home. Smart Home product and service developers are making better products, many of which include better education and better support.
Additionally, IoT companies are continually getting better about understanding who their customers are and what they want. As consumer preferences become apparent, product companies are telling better stories that communicate real value to their customers.
Voice is the new UI
The ability to command the Echo's speaker via Alexa's voice-recognition system introduced a new way for consumers to interact with the electronic world around them: voice.
While Siri may have initiated voice-activation with Apple products back in 2011, Alexa's voice capabilities (or "skills") could very well replace the smartphone touch-screen over time. Expect this trend to continue as other connected products add to Alexa's voice capabilities, which also allow you to control non-Amazon products--even your car.
Evolving business models (more services)
Two years ago, product companies were focused on connecting hardware (like lights, locks, doorbells, etc.) to the internet. Last year, the focus was on integrating those products with smart hubs and other connected point-solutions. This year, expect product companies to focus on providing services in an attempt to diversify their revenues and achieve recurring cash flows.
Wearables will work with the Smart Home
This will be the year that wearables converge with the Smart Home. Imagine a day when your fitness tracker won't let you turn on your TV because you didn't exercise yet. This convergence of industries presents a great opportunity for services and apps.
How to stay ahead
The IoT market is moving at breakneck speed; if you want to be a part of it, you need to stay ahead. Here are two ways to do that:
- Follow the top influencers in the Internet of Things for the latest news and actionable perspectives.
- Join an industry group if you have a company in the space. SkyBell (my IoT startup) is a member of the Internet of Things Consortium (IoTC), a nonprofit advocacy group that is looking to expand consumer awareness around IoT. The IoTC provides me with abundant opportunities to network with leaders in the Smart Home industry and stay on top of the latest trends.