Looking Forward to 2011

This weekend we turn the page on yet another year. And as well all get set to celebrate the beginning of a new year with family and friends I thought it would be fun to take a moment and reflect on the year that was in M2M and connected devices.

Of course there were many significant events that occurred in this space throughout the past year—the launch of Connected World magazine, for one, comes to mind! And naming them all in this space would be next to impossible. So rather than try and name some of the “top” news stories from 2010 I thought it would be good to reflect on just a few of the trends we started to see develop in the past 12 months and ponder how we might see them develop even further in the year ahead.

I think one trend that particularly stood out to me was the continued emergence of location-based services. Known as LBS for short, these services really started to take off this past year, driven in large part by consumers embracing LBS-apps like Foursqaure, Loopt, and Gowalla to “check-in” at their favorite locations.

But as the year progressed, LBS services really began to take over the shopping experience, with retailers and merchants catching on to the wave, offering special deals and incentives for coming to their stores. By the time the holiday season rolled around there were too many to keep track of, but Connected World contributor Laurie Lamberth did her best to give readers a rundown of the landscape with her location-based shopping guide.

In 2011 I see the LBS market becoming even bigger, particularly with businesses. From retailers, to healthcare providers, to service companies, I think there is tremendous opportunity for enterprises to leverage LBS apps, finding new and unique ways in which to leverage the location data of their employees to improve customer service and develop new services. We are already seeing businesses embrace smartphones and tablets for their employees, meaning the devices are in their hands to leverage enterprise-based LBS apps. Now it’s just time for many businesses to formulate a plan of attack.

If 2009 was the year of the carrier in M2M and connected devices with the major network carriers becoming more vocal about their commitment to the space, perhaps 2010 could be considered the year of the retailer. Case in point: Best Buy being named to the CW 100 list in 2010. When we named our coveted list for 2010, the fact that the Richfield, Minn.-based retail giant made the cut may have turned some heads, but when you look at all Best Buy is doing for this space, it’s hard to ignore the impact.

When talking about the connected world, Best Buy often says it wants to help consumers put all the pieces together. The company wants to move beyond merely selling a product, and into helping consumers learn about that product, and even providing service and support through the Geek Squad brand.

There is no telling how this trend will continue to develop in the coming year, but it’s exciting to see big names like Best Buy leading the charge in the world of connected devices. In fact, when you start to consider the things that companies like Intel, Ericsson, and Juniper Networks, to name just a few, are starting to do in the space, it’s exciting to think about how this could catapult connected devices to a new level in 2011.

We really heard a lot in the past year about remote kiosks. And I must say, it wasn’t just talk: every time I walk through the airport or visit the local convenience store, or even the gas station down the street from my office, I see a remote kiosk selling everything from consumer electronics to DVDs.

As more and more of these kiosks pop up in remote locations, we will need companies that can add remote connectivity and support. Just think about it: These kiosks are located in areas where cellular connectivity may be weak or even non-existent. Companies that can provide cellular boosting technology, remote connectivity support and service, and just an overall better infrastructure to support these assets, will be paramount to the overall success. In fact, this goes for any remote asset.

These are just a few trends we saw emerge in 2010. There is no telling what will transpire in 2011, but we at Connected World are committed to keeping our readers informed so as to make better decisions as professionals and consumers. Case in point: The stance that The Peggy Smedley Show has taken this past year on the role of technology in distracted driving. Expect to see more of the same in 2011.

What are some of your favorite trends from the past year? What do you expect to emerge in 2011 and beyond?

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