As we begin the new year, companies are searching for the expected trends for the coming year so they can stay competitive in their market. This is an objectively smart move, ensuring that companies are staying up to date on the trends that their customers value the most and making sure they aren’t neglecting opportunities to improve their offerings.


 

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However, in recent years, there have been some technology trends that seem to pop up every single year. When researching the trends for 2024, a question comes up: Are technology trends the same every year? Today, I want to walk through this question to determine if these trends truly are repeating. If they are, what’s causing them to repeat? And if they aren’t actually repeating, why does it look like they are?

Trends That are Repeating

1. AI

If you look up any variation of “technology trends” or “IoT trends,” either in general or for a specific year, one the first trends you’ll see on the list, if not the first, is AI. AI has been at the top of trends lists since it first appeared on the scene. And it’s no wonder, as there is no question that AI has taken the world by storm in recent years. AI is being used in various ways for a variety of purposes. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably had some exposure to some of these uses. You’ve heard of and may have even used content and image generators to help save time on projects. Google is even working on their own version of AI for search. Over the next decade and well into the future, AI will be impacting nearly every aspect of life. There’s no question that IoT companies are hopping on this train to make their lives easier and their customers’ lives easier. While some are worried that AI will steal their jobs, this doesn’t need to be a fear, at least for now. AI can’t provide the same creativity that humans do; it’s just a helpful tool so you can save time and get more done. Considering how busy everyone is, especially at the start of a new year, having some help is appreciated by those who are trying to avoid working too many extra hours and want to make time to explore and experiment with new strategies. 

2. Metaverse

These two technologies are often talked about in the same breath due to the many similarities that they share, both in terms of technology and in terms of function. Each year, people are spending more time than the year before in the digital world. Look at one of the most popular ways to play video games: VR goggles. Each for their own reason, many people want an escape from reality and are starting to turn toward the digital world for that escape. Even when it comes to work, so much of it is done digitally. Positions like “marketing specialist” are turning into “digital marketing specialist.” The rise of remote work has heavily contributed to this trend as well. Due to the increased time spent in the digital world, people are starting to take advantage of advances in the digital world that make it look like the real world. Will there be a day when you can’t decipher which is reality and which was built to look like reality? That’s still far off and largely unrealistic, but it’s worth considering the direction that AR and VR are moving in as you turn more of your life digital. 

3. Sustainable Technology

Sustainability in general has become a massive trend in recent years. Current generations are starting to consider how much of an impact their actions have on the environment on every level. From something as small as reusable grocery bags or recycling to building eclectic cars and pursuing renewable energy, sustainable efforts are popping up everywhere. Many consumers are making purchasing decisions based on how sustainable the company they are buying from is. And while technology initially was seen as something working inherently against sustainability efforts, in recent years, companies have been figuring out ways to use technology to make their operations more sustainable. This has been to great success, and technology is now being used to promote sustainable practices on every level. 

4. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity seems to have been a trend since technology was first introduced. As technology has improved and become more secure, hackers continually educate themselves to be able to break that security. It seems to be a never-ending cycle. Cybersecurity is essential for anyone and any company that utilizes technology, ensuring that security measures are in place to protect valuable data and information. Without secure practices, you are risking your company’s future and financial standing. As technology is being used more, for more, companies must make sure they are balancing the use of technology with cybersecurity efforts.

5. Smart… Everything

You name it, there’s a chance it’s been turned smart. We have a podcast episode reviewing unique technologies, and the amount of solutions we came across that started with “smart” was mind boggling. With the increased use of IoT technology, it shouldn’t be a surprise that people and companies are trying to make everything smart. If something becomes smart, then you have less you need to do. You no longer have to carry around an address book to call your friends; you can save their phone numbers in your phone. You don’t have to visit yellow pages to find a local pizza place to order from. You don’t have to print out directions before taking a trip. While these may not have “smart” in front of them, you are still seeing manual efforts become automated to save time, which is truly the spirit and intent of the “smart” movement.

Are IoT Trends Really the Same Every Year?

The answer is both yes and no. In some circumstances, it truly is the same trend being rehashed as it stays in public consciousness. In other circumstances, it’s the same technology, but the specifics of the trend are actually different. While AI has been at the top of every trend list for many years now, it’s not always being spoken about for the same reasons. Maybe for a few years, one AI development or use case trends, and then for the next few years, a different development or use case trends. It’s still the same base technology, falling under the umbrella of AI, but the trend itself differs. This is because it’s easy for articles to list AI generally, a buzzword to grab readers’ attention, and then expand on the specifics of that year’s development or use case farther into the article. The umbrella terms are simply being used to provide basic understanding. If you say AI is a trend, people will understand what that means far easier than which aspect of AI is set to transform the industry over the next year. By starting with what people understand and then delving deeper into the specifics, readers are able to acquire knowledge with far less hassle.

Even besides these differences, since technology can take a while to develop and find its niche, it makes sense that some trends do genuinely repeat year after year. Maybe the first year it’s listed as a trend is when it’s being researched and created. It may not even be implemented until the second or third year of it being listed as a trend. Sometimes, a trend may take a while to take full effect and have its full potential realized. It’s possible that the first time something was listed as a trend, it wasn’t truly a trend or it was on a much smaller level, just starting out on its journey to relevance. 

At What Point Does a Trend Become Normalized?

There are a couple reasons that a trend may fall off a trend list. The first would be normalization. When smartphones were first introduced, they were the trendy phone to have. Eventually, society came to a place where nearly everyone has a smartphone. Nowadays, no one would say they bought a smartphone to keep up with trends. They would buy one because it’s practical for use and they are the main option to purchase for cell phones. It may be hard to believe right now, but eventually AI will become normalized. How long does it take for a trend to become normalized? Well, that depends on a few factors. If a trend is introduced before it’s ready to scale, then it may take a while. Some technology is easy to implement so it may take less time and money to jump on the bandwagon. Or it’s possible that when something becomes a trend, there comes pushback from competing industry experts or the trend’s audience may take some time to get on board and believe that the new technology is meaningful to them. As the world becomes more digitally focused, today’s new technological innovations will become a normal part of operations and different technology and trends will take their place.

Another common reason that trends in technology might fall off of a trend list is because they become irrelevant. Maybe a trend becomes no longer relevant because something newer has taken its place (i.e. 5G taking over 4G). Or maybe the technology in and of itself is no longer relevant. Technology is a part of an interesting cycle. It can take a while to innovate an idea, but trends also come and go so quickly. If you want to play a role in emerging technology trends,  you have to jump on board immediately. If you wait too long, or take too long to innovate, you run the risk of the technology you’re working with being rendered obsolete. What you created may have been good for a brief period of time, only for something better to come along and replace it. Maybe that short trend sparked the idea of a trend that would be bigger and last longer and truly become the new normal. It’s hard to predict the cause for a trend eventually falling off of a trend list when its core technology is first introduced. You have to watch the industry and see how they react to the trend. If they support it and want to drive it forward, it might show up year after year, impacting people in various ways. If people don’t love it, it will quickly fall off and something new will take its place.

How Does a Trend Become a Trend?

A company cannot just declare that any technology they choose is a trend. Strong industry players can help influence a trend, certainly, but they can’t just claim that something is a trend and make it true. In order for a technology to emerge as a trend, there has to be a lot of use of the technology. The use of the trending technology will start small. A few companies will use the technology and tell others about the success they’ve had. Soon, other people will also invest in the technology so they can find the same success. Once they find success, they’ll tell others about it and this trend will continue. Eventually, everyone the trend relates to will be using the technology or at least have heard about it. Large companies can highly influence the use of a trending technology by saying that they are using it. Other smaller companies will likely follow suit to be more like the company they hope to one day be like. Based on buying behaviors, you can tell what the trends are and what the trends in the future may look like.

How Do IoT Technology Trends Impact Businesses?

At the core of these repeating trends is automation. Companies have been automating their processes since this technology was first introduced, aiming to save time and money and eliminate human error. Technologies like this one trend for a reason, so it’s worth it to look into trends and consider how investing in certain technologies will impact your company. What benefits do they provide? What problems are they solving? Some trends may be beneficial and transform your operations while others may not affect your business at all. Carefully consider how each trend is predicted to impact the industry you are in and consider what role you will play in the trend’s continuation.

A version of automation that has started to trend in recent years is asset tracking. Asset tracking is a technology that has impacted nearly every industry, providing a way for companies to gain real-time visibility of their most valuable assets. In the past, this has been done by using pen and paper records maintained by employees whenever assets were used or moved. This method wasn’t the best solution for tracking assets. Employees can forget, the paper logging their movements can get lost or destroyed, or mistakes can be made when logging usage. This proved to be an unreliable system so automation was sought after.

For a while, barcode scanners became the new trend for tracking assets. This was a huge step toward automation for companies. They could simply scan a barcode and all the information about that asset would be easily logged for referral. While this new technology trend was useful, it still wasn’t perfect. Barcode scanners couldn’t provide real-time location information about assets. You could determine where it last was, but you don’t know where it went after. Employees can still be forgetful and neglect to scan the asset. And if that asset isn’t where the system says it is, you have no reliable way of finding it.

The latest trend for tracking assets, asset tracking, completely automates the location tracking process. Once the tag is attached to the asset and connected to your UI, you can watch it move in real time. You don’t have to rely on employees to do anything with it. This saves time and ensures that you always know where your assets are. When you look up the location of a missing asset, you’re not being told the last known location, you’re being told where it is right at that moment. Asset tracking is a trend that has massively impacted any company that chooses to invest. 

Are You Keeping Up With Technology Trends?

Overall, it’s worth it to look into trends and assess which ones have relevance for your company’s future. You want to be someone in the industry that participates in the start of trends and catches on early, giving you access to the most up to date technology and using it to inform the future of your company. You can use it to improve on your daily operations and stand out from your competitors who haven’t kept up with trends. Without keeping up with trends, you risk falling behind your competitors, and consumers may not take your company as seriously as they do others. It’s important to understand why certain trends repeat year after year in order to ensure that you’re truly staying on top of the latest technology. Technology trends often repeat because of how influential they are and sometimes they are advancing within their umbrella.

Link Labs helps companies participate in the overarching trend of automation. We’ve created an asset tracking system that provides real-time location information to companies about their assets, helping companies eliminate human error and improve operational efficiency through a simple technology solution. To learn more about our solution and the future of technology trends, book a demo with our team of experts.

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Written by Emily Saldivar

Emily Saldivar is a Marketing Specialist for Link Labs and has been with the company since 2020. She has a background in content writing and is furthering the Link Labs mission through social media and other platforms.

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