Update: 2020 Trends in the Internet of Things

July 9 2020
by Christian Renaud, Mark Fontecchio, Ian Hughes, Rich Karpinski, Katy Ring, Johan Vermij


The coronavirus outbreak has rapidly shifted global markets, including those related to enterprise technology, since we published our 2020 Trends report on the Internet of Things in November 2019. This report serves as an update to our 2020 predictions in light of market changes due to COVID-19.

The 451 Take

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on IoT varies from industry to industry, with the balance being negative. While some industries have 'circled the wagons' to wait out the pandemic, others are using this time to make radical changes to infrastructure and business models, accelerating planned digital transformation projects from years to months. The IoT technologies mentioned in our earlier 2020 Trends report are still in use; however, we anticipate that many will be utilized or repurposed for employee or customer safety (such as video analytics) as well as contact tracing (asset tracking). The furloughing of many employees may create skills gaps in operational environments, amplifying the need for low-code/no-code environments, as well as increase reliance on professional services partners for implementation and support.

451 Research's Q4 view of the market – what we said

Figure 1
2020 Trends in the Internet of Things, as of November 2019
451 Research, 2019

Our updated evaluation of each trend follows.

Increased reliance on video analytics, and therefore edge computing

Social distancing will remain with society in many forms, as will contact tracing, for some time. Video and analytics of the captured environment can be used to alert businesses to violations of distancing rules or laws, as well as track individuals who may be suspected of being infected. As pervasive as video analytics is as a horizontal use case across all industries, we anticipate it will pick up even further in market penetration as budgets are created for safety applications.

The economics of analyzing large volumes of video footage heavily favors edge computing over centralized, cloud-based analysis. This trend should favor manufacturers of embedded video analytics silicon as well as edge compute platforms and add momentum to an already fast-moving edge market.

Furloughed and laid-off worker skill sets will be challenging to replicate

The long-term impacts of displaced workers who may have hard-to-find operational skill sets will be far reaching. This will increase reliance on the existing workforce and their ability to automate previously manual processes and analyze operational data to identify potential efficiencies. It will also increase the relevance of low-code/no-code environments, such as Siemens Mendix or Appian, that reduce the complexity of building workflows and analysis of machine data to within reach of non-data scientists.

Partners will be more critical as automation helps address labor shortages

For those lost skills that are impossible to replicate in-house, even with the support of low-code/no-code tools, enterprises will have to augment staff skills with those of trusted partners. This will span the lifecycle of digital transformation projects, from conception and ideation to implementation and ongoing management. As common workloads (asset tracking, video analytics) develop, a new breed of managed service provider will inevitably emerge to (securely) outsource management of these deployments.