01 Jan 2020

IoT predictions for 2020

The snowball is rolling and gathering momentum, but what does that mean for IoT in 2020? Check out u-blox IoT Evangelist, Lee Stacey's predictions.

Iot predictions 2020

Choosing the right IoT devices to speed up proof of concept and scale quickly (en-US)2019 was the year we had all been waiting for in the world of IoT. Big ideas have started turning into trials, and trials are now converting to real-world applications. The snowball is rolling and it’s gathering momentum, but what does that mean for IoT in 2020? In this post, I’ll give you my IoT predictions for the year ahead.

IoT growth

Consumers have been getting used to the idea of connected devices for a few years, but until recently, the worlds of enterprise and industry have been a little slow on the uptake. We’re finally beginning to see that change with large companies investing in production rollouts. As businesses grasp the possibilities of digital transformation, so the proliferation and growth of enterprise, commercial, and industrial IoT continue.

While growth is an obvious trend that we can’t deny, the important factor here is how IoT will grow and what effect that will have on those of us inside the IoT world and our customers on the outside. Read on to discover our predictions for IoT in 2020.

1. MQTT will outstrip other IoT messaging protocols

Not all IoT devices are created equal, and they don’t all speak the same language. Nobody waved a magic wand back in the 2000s and said “this is how you do IoT” because nobody knew they would need to. IoT has got to where it is by the evolution of many different technologies. This has led to many different protocols being used for the transfer of data from device to enterprise and a desperate need for standardization. That’s where MQTT comes in. Created over 25 years ago, MQTT was built to handle machine-to-machine (M2M) communication efficiently and reliably – which is exactly what it does now.

Ease of use and low-power efficiency, combined with comprehensive MQTT QoS make it the ideal standard for IoT and, by extension, IIoT (Industrial IoT). MQTT-SN will also come to the fore in 2020. Extra features added to MQTT to relay data from sensor networks will allow for IoT devices to use even less power to send messages.

2. The rise of IIoT – at last

Did you hear that? Someone said there was a fourth industrial revolution happening… At last, that might actually be the case. While we’ve seen a fair bit of growth in consumer IoT over the past few years, IIoT has been lagging somewhat. Until now, IIoT has been held up by a combination of a lack of suitable technology and trust in IoT as a whole, but that has begun to change with more and more businesses beginning to see the value of the data they are collecting. Important business processes such as asset tracking, data gathering, and new business modeling, to name but a few, will see enhancement through the introduction of IoT infrastructure.

Although the problem of trust is still there, IoT security is advancing quickly and there are now plenty of successful enterprise use cases out in the real world to counter some of the horror stories of botnets and hackers that might have businesses worried. These advances and case studies will be the trigger for many IIoT networks to move from concept to reality.

3. Blockchain gets over the hype

In 2019, everyone wanted Blockchain, but nobody knew what it was or why they wanted it. A lack of real-world IoT applications utilizing Blockchain has made it hard to prove the technology’s worth, and, like IoT, it has struggled in its uptake. 2020 will see many IoT applications using Blockchain to solve some of the trust and security issues apparent to IoT devices.

Used in conjunction with IoT, Blockchain allows for a reliable exchange of data over great distances, which can bring massive benefits to logistics, asset management, or anywhere that smart contracts could be applied.

4. Rise of the smart office

It’s taken a while, but we’re all just about used to the concept of a smart home. The term “smart office” extends this concept to the workplace. Just like the home of the future, the vision of a smart office puts automation at the heart of the business, intending to create a more efficient, comfortable, and productive environment. Sensors embodied in these smart systems can measure a variety of environmental elements – occupancy, light, air quality, humidity, and even noise. The resulting data gathered from these sensors will help businesses to make important strategic decisions regarding facilities management – everything from costs to operations, with the added option of being able to track business assets.

5. More networks – more fragmentation

Some things might get worse before they get better. The evolution of 5G networks, NB-IoT, and a bevy of unlicensed band networks means that there are more ways than ever to get data from the device to the enterprise. While this creates flexibility, making IoT possible just about everywhere on the planet, it also makes things more complicated. For example, more 5G IoT devices connecting directly to public 5G networks rather than via a Wi-Fi router potentially exposes them to more threats. For this reason, tried-and-tested connectivity solutions where the hard work and security detail has already been done by someone else will win the day.

Full steam ahead for 2020

Comparing 2019 to previous years, it’s clear to see the areas in which IoT has grown up. There is less unguided, costly innovation, fewer failing projects, and many more real-world applications out there collecting, using, and learning from data. All in all, this gives us a great place to start the new year with lots of exciting projects on the horizon and a lot of exciting things to announce in the coming months. Watch this space!

A quick review of 2019

Here’s a quick glance at some of the things we’ve done over the past 12 months.

Top stories


A special mention goes to in>flow, our inaugural developer event in Amsterdam where, with the help of our partners, we took attendees through the stages of getting an IoT device trialed, planned, built, and deployed in the field. Featuring in-depth talks and demonstrations, attendees went home with everything they needed to create an IoT solution of their own, avoiding the pitfalls and gotchas that we see time and time again.


in>flow 2019 Amsterdam

Wishing you a prosperous 2020

Last but not least, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our customers and partners for what has been an amazing year for us. We simply couldn’t do it without you. Have a fantastic 2020!

If you'd like to know about future in>flow events or would like to know how u-blox can help with your next IoT project, please get in touch.

Lee Stacey

IoT Evangelist - u-blox Services


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