At the beginning of each year, across every industry, industry leaders release the top trends they predict will be the most impactful in the coming months. This is an especially popular topic in the technology space due to how rapidly the industry evolves. With how quickly technology is innovated and how impactful the innovations are, it’s important for everyone in the industry to pay attention to the current trends. Without the knowledge of current trends, you won’t be participating in what’s popular at the moment. This means you risk falling behind your competitors and losing the trust of your customers. After all, if you can’t be bothered to know what’s important in the industry, how can a customer trust you’ll deliver a well-produced product?


 

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Each list you look at will have some variation, but each will anticipate similar trends. The main differences will come in the order they are listed and sometimes the title of the trend. It also may differ between sub-industries. The IoT space is vast so depending on which part you participate in, what’s most impactful to your company might differ from someone else due to the nature of your operations. 2024 is, without a doubt, continuing to push forward with IoT innovation. So what are the predicted IoT technology trends for this year? Let’s dive in.

1. AI

How many years has AI been on trends lists? Quite a few at this point, but this year, the trend looks a little different than usual, centering around the idea of AI integration. The idea of AI is great and has been helpful for many companies. But recently, companies have noticed that for AI to be useful, some basics need to come first. In order for AI to work, data needs to be collected. Once data has been collected, then AI can be integrated into existing processes and use the data to make decisions. What’s happening this year is that companies are looking to invest in an IoT solution that can collect that data for them so they can eventually use AI. For this reason, AI integrations are becoming more relevant as a method of saving time and money using data from existing systems.

Since AI isn’t taking the expected form, is it still a trend for 2024? I’d argue no, at least not for logistics operations. The real trend tied to AI centers around investment in location tracking systems that can collect important data so down the road, AI can be used. The data collection is currently the centerpiece, not the AI technology itself. Some industry experts are even saying that IoT platforms going mainstream is the true indicator of AI’s future prevalence. Since the first introduction of IoT technology, companies have had some skepticism about it, wondering about its necessity, safety, and applicability. Time after time, these solutions have proven themselves to be worth the investment. Fleet managers can look toward the success other companies have had and quickly come to the decision to invest in the solution. Even more, all the small kinks have been worked out after the initial use of the technology now that it’s become mature. Once companies hop onto the true trend of data collection through IoT technology, they’ll be able to invest in AI as a supplementary tool and reap its benefits.

2. Predictive Analytics

Analytics have been a part of all company operations since businesses were first started. Advancements in technology have simply allowed companies to collect and store operational data with greater ease and automation, allowing for the rise of predictive analytics. With new innovations in data collection and analytics, companies are being provided with automated, real-time predictive analytics without the need for direct manual input. Because, yes, predictive analytics are an important part of decision making, but it is a time-consuming responsibility when data is being manually analyzed.

Look at your current systems and what they can and can’t do. Most location technologies can tell you where each of your pallets are right now, but can yours predict where your pallets will end up? Can it, based on activity, tell you when each trailer will be available to be loaded up and sent on a trip? As companies lean into IoT tracking, predictive analytics is the perfect place to implement the aforementioned AI supplements. As AI operates based on collected data, this is a great way to determine where your assets will be and what they will be doing in the future. Can you imagine how much planning you can accomplish when your IoT platform can tell you in minutes or seconds where every one of your assets will be years from now and the state of the equipment? It’s the definition of impactful!

3. Sustainability

Sustainability efforts have been on the rise for a few years now. Consumers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based in part on how sustainable the company is they are looking to buy from. This proved to be a challenge for a while, because for years, technology has had a negative connotation in regards to sustainability. People automatically assume that technology isn't sustainable. And while this can be true depending on the company and their policies, in many ways, the notion that technology has an inherently negative effect on sustainability efforts is being flipped on its head.

People are discovering how IoT technologies can be used to promote sustainability, especially within logistics. Asset tracking technology, for example, is able to track and monitor assets in real time. With the resultant data, fleet managers achieve deeper understanding concerning the usage of their assets, allowing them to make optimization decisions so they can get more usage out of their assets before they irreparably break down and require disposal and replacements. They can also recover lost or stolen assets so they don’t need to be replaced. Additionally, the use of a tracking device allows fleet managers to utilize returnable pallets instead of disposable ones. They can track the pallet while it goes on its journey and make sure it gets returned so it can be reused. And in perhaps the most influential example, IoT technology is especially helpful in the cold chain space, helping to monitor temperatures and reduce food waste. If you’ve been operating under the assumption that technology negatively impacts sustainability efforts, you’re not alone. This year, change your mindset and reap the benefits of sustainable technology.

4. Hybridization of Multiple Technologies

The hybridization of technology popped up as a trend for the first time last year, but not everyone took advantage of it. This year, companies are seeing the benefits that come from combining technology and want to jump on the bandwagon so they can see similar success. Link Labs helped lead the way on this trend when we introduced our solution called AirFinder Ultra, combining UWB and Bluetooth technology to get the best of both worlds for indoor asset tracking. We’re not planning on slowing down with this trend anytime soon. We’re working to combine 5G with our current AirFinder Everywhere solution so we can provide higher accuracy without increasing costs when tracking assets outdoors. 

When people think about the hybridization of technologies, they tend to assume that this trend is heading toward a one-size-fits- all solution. However, we’re quickly seeing that this isn’t the case, at least not for the foreseeable future. Each technology comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, so different technologies are still going to be better for different companies with different goals and restraints. Let’s use AirFinder Ultra as an example. Bluetooth LE is a cost-effective solution that provides fairly accurate data, while UWB is an expensive solution that provides up to centimeters of accuracy. We were able to bring together the accuracy of UWB and the cost-effectiveness of Bluetooth LE to offer a solution that has the best of both worlds. This technology has provided a great solution for companies looking to track assets indoors, but it can’t be used outside on its own. That’s why we have our AirFinder Everywhere solution, which provides the same benefits with regards to a different playing field and different core technology needs. 

5. IoT Embedded in Core Technologies

One of the latest technology trends in IoT involves the manner in which IoT is going mainstream. This trend implies a different version of “mainstream” than the one we used earlier. Earlier, we discussed how every company is seeing the success of IoT and jumping on board to use it. Now, we’re talking about the mainstream manufacturing of common equipment and inclusion of core technologies. Since IoT solutions can be so easily integrated into existing operations, the integration is starting to be included at the source. Before, if a company wanted an IoT solution, they had to integrate it into their truck on their own. Now, however, trucks are being built with the solution already in place for use by the company.

This is helpful because of the higher exposure rate for a variety of helpful solutions. While IoT is going mainstream, still not every company knows about it or thinks it could benefit them. If the solution comes with the purchase of something they need, they’ll start to gain the solution’s benefits and will better understand the technology’s intent and value. When they see it in action, they’ll want to apply the same technology in other operational areas to improve efficiencies. Not too long ago, we saw this pattern play out with GPS navigation technology. If you wanted to use GPS in a vehicle, you had to pay extra for the system and seek it out yourself. Now, it usually comes as a part of the vehicle you’re buying. This is slowly starting to happen with IoT solutions. As it does, embrace the change. If a technology is being implemented at a production level, that means it’s proven itself useful and reliable enough for other companies, allowing you to benefit from a matured version of an impactful solution. 

Real Trends vs Hype

The common list of trends you see are not always what they seem. Often, the included trends simply reflect tech industry or social hype that may not reflect its true applicability and usefulness for the industries investing in these products. We see this with a few trends, but an especially prevalent example is AI. Sometimes, a trend like this starts because the idea of it seems like it will be helpful to save time and money. Unfortunately, this type of trend can only remain hyped until further advancements in the industry are made and the technology can actually be implemented. We see this with AI in the logistics space. AI is a true trend in some spaces, but in logistics, it’s not ready yet. Data collection is more important right now, because there’s no use for AI within spaces that are not collecting enough data for an AI system to operate. That’s a technology that will only be impactful down the road; the industry, generally speaking, isn’t ready for it yet. What’s trending in the marketplace is typically a good indicator of what’s trending commercially, but it’s worth doing a little extra research to determine if the trend you’re considering is commercially trending or just trending because of talk.

Are You Keeping Up With Logistics Industry Trends?

Logistics trends like the ones we’ve discussed today are what are pushing the logistics industry forward. The advancements and improvements we’re seeing in logistics operations come from companies taking advantage of the latest IoT technology trends in ways that reflect their needs, restraints, and values. Different technologies trend for a reason, and that reason is that many companies have found out that the technology can save them time, money, or both. If you notice an IoT trend is working for others, it’s worth considering how it will work for you. You may just find that the solution will go a long way toward helping you save both time and money. To learn more about the role Link Labs is playing in 2024 IoT trends, book a demo with our team.

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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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