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Think about all the connected “things” you carry with you or have in your home: Smart phones, iPads, PCs, fitness watches and many other devices. Some we’ve used for years, others are part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT). We use them frequently for communicating, connecting socially, monitoring our health and fitness or conducting business. All of this data is contributing to what IDC calls the Global DataSphere. You may not realize this, but as soon as you connect anything to the internet, you establish a data exchange relationship that adds to the world’s DataSphere until the device is disconnected.

Earlier this summer, my friend’s daughter began a new job, her first one right out of college. Amidst all the usual starting-a-new-job hubbub of picking health insurance and setting up her direct deposit, she was also faced with getting her hardware – laptop, tablet, and smartphone – selected and set up. It’s a task many of us are usually faced with, and don’t spend too much time thinking about. However, not long after starting her job, she called me at work with a question:

“Ramon, which wearable should I get?”

By now you’ve probably heard about this next generation of cellular connectivity thing known as 5G. Nationwide advertising campaigns tout the ability to play multiplayer games on the move and logos are already changing on our phones. You might even think you have it via the 5G (GHz) channel on your WiFi router. Mobile operators began announcing launches of one form of 5G service or another beginning late last year and are continuing through 2019. Leading academics and engineers have already moved on and started talking about 6G and 7G. The 5G era is signed, sealed and delivered, right?

The Internet of Things (IoT) market is a tricky thing; customers aren’t necessarily looking to buy “IoT technology” but are instead searching for solutions that can help them achieve a specific business goal, such as supply chain efficiency or cost savings. That’s why IoT vendors need to not only have a good handle on the other players in their space, but on the ways they and their competition are framing their individual IoT solutions. It’s not enough to talk about the IoT market; vendors must frame their solution in a business value context in order to connect with their customer base.

A little more than a year ago I was gifted a smart speaker by a friend for Christmas. At the time I was suspicious of installing an always-listening device in my home and had no streaming subscriptions or other smart home devices. Fast forward 12 months and I’m excited to say that I now have several smart speakers throughout my house that allow me to stream my favorite music on demand. Best of all, since they allow me to control other devices with just my voice, I also have a host of smart home devices ranging from robot vacuums to lights and cameras and streaming sticks to name just a few.

It’s my favorite time of the year – the moment when our Global IoT Decision Maker results come back from the field. We’ve been fielding this primary research study for 6 consecutive years, and this year we captured feedback from our biggest sample yet. This year we have inputs from almost 5,000 IoT decision makers in more than 25 countries. The dataset is rich with perspective on deployments, including the challenges and successes these organizations are experiencing. But this year, we are diving deeper into the key metrics they are using to measure success as well as their perspectives on how to truly monetize the IoT.