Each year the analysts come out with predictions about technology trends for the coming year. In the past, such trends have included the cloud, mobile, and more—all of which are still predicted to be big areas of growth in 2014. However this year the analysts are making a bold prediction, saying IoT (Internet of Things) will be one of the top technology trends for enterprises in 2014.

IoT or M2M (machine-to-machine) is when devices have sensors, RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags, and other smart systems to enable connectivity between machines, devices, and people. In construction, this could mean having tags on equipment or tools to track where an item is located, for example. Construction projects have also used RFID for tracking materials, tracking safety, and more.

While the use of IoT and M2M has mainly been limited to early technology adopters in construction up until this point, the analysts say this trend is set to grow in 2014.

Frost & Sullivan, www.frost.com, San Antonio, Texas, for example, says IoT will be one of the top seven enterprise communications scenes in 2014, saying the impact of IoT at the enterprise will become increasingly pronounced throughout the next year, leading to 80 billion connected devices globally by 2020. This will ultimately change how services are delivered.

The other big enterprise communications scenes include: Microsoft Lync, a unified communications platform that connects people on Windows 8 and other operating systems including mobile devices, will become a more disruptive force; high usage of apps; telecommunications vendors will play greater role; unified-communications-as-a-service will be the norm; Web realtime communication will take off; and Google and Amazon will become a growing threat.

While Frost & Sullivan says healthcare, automotive, logistics, and transportation will be some of the top industries for IoT, another organization foresees a big uptick for IoT in construction specifically. According to a recent ARM, www.arm.com, Cambridge, England, survey, the manufacturing sector currently leads the way for IoT use, but is followed by construction and healthcare. ARM also suggests 75% of companies across all industries are already exploring IoT for business.

IoT will enable the construction industry to gather data from connected items on the jobsite, allowing workers to make decisions faster and, in some cases, the devices will even be able to make decisions on their own in order to keep the job running.

Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., made an interesting statement recently when it said mobile phones will be smarter than people by 2017. This is because the cloud and the data stored in the cloud will provide smartphones will the computational ability to make sense of the information.

Could IoT and M2M be one of the next big trends for IT professionals in construction to explore? Much of the technology forecasts are certainly predicting a surge in IoT for construction. Now it is up to construction to respond.