Using the internet to connect physical products and operations to business digital systems has evolved far from its roots as simple RFID tags. The internet of things (IoT) is proliferating across consumer products, industrial operations, and supply chains. And, as we predicted for 2019, the variety of IoT software platforms has continued to grow and evolve to complement the cloud giants’ foundation IoT capabilities rather than compete with them.

In 2020, LoWPAN won't disappear. 40% of IoT devices will transmit data to gateways or nearby devices this way.

In 2020, business use of IoT will keep expanding as it’s added to more products and business operations. Just as the market has come to expect updated digital experiences, it will begin to expect the same from experiences in the physical world. Customers increasingly expect that OEMs know what their experience is with the product and that you can give them up-to-date status on how well the business process is working toward their needs.

Here’s three of our 2020 IoT predictions:

  • Smart speaker displays will proliferate. 41 million US households have smart speakers in 2019, and they are proliferating in other markets as suppliers do the necessary language and cultural localizations for various markets. Lower prices of $50 and under are also a major factor in global expansion. In 2020, Amazon, Baidu, and Google will drive major adoption of smart displays — smart speakers that have a phone, camera, or tablet-sized screen to enable visual responses and interactions. These devices will also play a growing role in the workplace.
  • A product OEM will be targeted by a ransomware attack. Cyberattackers have so far targeted companies with ransomware by hacking their internal computer systems. But in 2020, we expect to see attackers instead go after the company’s products in the hands of customers. They will block connection or operation of connected products such as home lighting or manufacturing machinery until the product maker pays a large ransom.
  • A major product-as-a-service ecosystem will launch. Connected products create a constant communication flow between customer and product maker. They also create ongoing costs for product makers, who need to monitor experiences and send software updates. OEMs are seeking new revenue sources for their connected products to offset those costs. In 2020, we predict a major consumer or B2B provider will convert from product sales to an IoT services offering, backed by partners in an ecosystem.

The IoT market will continue to see dramatic and rapid change. To learn more about what we’re predicting for 2020, read our full report.

Several Forrester analysts contributed to this year’s IoT predictions, including: Michele Pelino, Paul Miller, Chris Sherman, Heidi Shey, Julie A. Ask, Thomas Husson, Charlie Dai, and Andre Kindness.