According to this report, global spending on the IoT will hit $745 billion this year, up 15% from last year, and is expected to top the $1 trillion mark by 2022, with double digit percentage increases every year. That means it’s hot, getting hotter, and not expected to cool off for a long time. From a business perspective, this spells opportunity. All these connected devices need a web or mobile app to control and monitor them, so if you’re jumping into the app development world, IoT is a great place to be.
Which Sectors Are the Hottest?
The IoT extends to multiple sectors, as the applications are continuing to grow. But some sectors are doing better than others, so let’s have a look at current and projected statistics and growth in today’s market, according to the study above.
- Discrete manufacturing: $119 billion projected in 2019. Discrete manufacturing refers to the manufacture of distinct items, like cars or air conditioners. This, among others on this list, are considered industrial IoT sectors, and apps that integrate with these systems need to be powerful indeed, as it would involve massive machinery and automated processes.
- Process manufacturing: $71 billion projected in 2019. This describes the type of manufacturing that produces formulas and recipes, rather than finished products. Keep in mind that various components of artificial intelligence (AI) can contribute to necessary predictive analytics within the manufacturing process.
- Consumer: $108 billion projected in 2019. This is the sector that everyday folks can relate to and understand. Smart houses with integrated climate control and appliances, security systems, integrated cars…the list goes on, and everything looks positive on the consumer front. Apps that monitor and control these systems will be much less technical than manufacturing-based apps, but should be much more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, while possessing more personality then industrial apps.
- Transportation and Utilities: $71 billion and $61 billion (respectively) projected in 2019. These industries already count heavily on the IoT to efficiently conduct their business, and that progress will continue to expand. Transportation uses the IoT for freight management and inventory purposes, while various municipal utility companies, like water and electric, can utilize connected meters and other equipment to monitor usage, predict surges and outages, and generally automate much of their industry. Apps in these areas should have a strong combination of technical power and user experience.
- Others: There are countless other ways the IoT can be utilized. Retail, restaurants, healthcare, agriculture, fitness…and many more that we aren’t mentioning or haven’t even been thought of yet. It’s these multiple niches where there’s a bounty of opportunity for mobile app development. Pay attention to these various emerging trends and technologies, and have your app development partner on board and ready to go.
What Niche Needs Filling?
Deciding which sector of the IoT to develop an app for is actually quite a philosophical dilemma. Basically, you need to look at the existing market, identify niches that are either red hot or underserved, and decide to either create something new and novel, or significantly improve on an existing concept. There are present apps that dominate the market to be aware of, and those are good ones to start research with.
Once you’ve identified these industry leaders, dig right in. Ideally, you’d be able to download it and try it out yourself, but many are somewhat inaccessible, particularly the industrial and manufacturing types. Go straight to the reviews; start with professional ones from trade websites and magazines, then work your way down to those posted on the app store or other social forums. Take careful notes, as you’ll want to see which features work well, and which don’t. Ultimately, you want to create a list of pain points that your app can provide solutions for. Basing your new app on solutions for existing app issues or a necessary solution for a space that has yet to be filled makes solid business sense, both from the ideation stage and on into development.
What kind of trends are making a difference? Well, let’s go through a few.
- Personalization: Everybody likes to be recognized, acknowledged and catered to. Apps that take your volunteered data and uses past interactions to make the user experience personal and smoother can have a special advantage on the market.
- Dashboard: You’ll want a particularly slick, intuitive, and user-friendly dashboard for your IoT mobile app. As mentioned above, IoT apps are typically controlling and monitoring these connected devices and machines, so this dashboard has to have the highest UX quality possible. Make sure the controls are easy to locate and use…some designers like the sleek minimalist feel, but that can throw novice users off.
- Social: This is certainly not applicable for many sectors, but in the case of IoT fitness wearables, for example, today’s app users want to share and connect. Implementing the ability to join groups, track progress, and even show off a little (we all do it!) is also a desirable feature, especially among the younger users.
Look for trending topics on Twitter and LinkedIn, and see what people are searching for on Google. The better acquainted you are with what’s hot in IoT, the more you’ll be equipped to choose your path.
So, The Answer Is…
Well, apologies, but there are no clear-cut answers here. The point of this post was to work through the research and decision-making process methodically, and get a better understanding of what niches are underserved or need to be revolutionized with some new ideas. First, decide whether you’re going industrial, municipal, or consumer as to which sector will work the best. With manufacturing, you should try to meet and talk to those in the industry; likewise, local county or city officials should be very willing to discuss new ideas, especially if they save money. As for consumer facing apps, find the best ones out there that still have a pain point or two, and take note.
Talk to a business analyst at an app development partner, and bring your notes and research. They should be able to confidently discuss the market, the viability of your ideas, and how to take the next steps. Together, you can both move forward in this very exciting space.
Do you have an idea for an app that you want to explore? Check out some of our work and don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation!