For the past few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been all the buzz when it comes to consumer goods and how they talk and engage with one another. And we humans are adopting those technologies at an increasing rate.

According to a U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts report released in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, the consumer tech industry will reach $422 billion in retail revenue in 2020—approximately 4% more than last year. The report cites streaming services, wireless earbuds and artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled devices for the uptick in consumer interest.

AI and 5G, the fifth generation of wireless technology, promise to transform homes, cities, health care and the way we enjoy entertainment. But to me, their most exciting applications will be in the world of manufacturing.

I recognize that this is not a typical topic for me, but I can’t help but wonder how our businesses and plants will transform in the not-so-distant future. I am surprised we aren’t talking more about industry applications and the opportunities tech presents.

For example, there are predictions that 5G technology will be incorporated into industrial machines, providing us with data that will enable greater efficiency, cost savings and boost our ability to customize products in-line. Where once we relied heavily on repetitive manufacturing, we’ll be able to make alterations on the fly, bringing about greater customer satisfaction without the loss of productivity.

Other opportunities include using AI and machine learning to identify patterns from large amounts of data. Our equipment will help us identify quality issues before they happen and take just-in-time manufacturing to an entirely new level. Our supply chains will become “well oiled” and we’ll be able to analyze cost data in ways that we could never imagine before, as our systems will connect all of the dots for us.

The View from Here

This seems like IoT on steroids to me. The View from Here is that technology continues to lead the industry and we must stay on top of advances to stay relevant. I am not sure yet how all this can be applied directly to our industry, but it certainly will impact upstream suppliers and will transform the way we live, work and serve our customers.

For additional reading, check out my colleague Erin Johnson’s take on CES 2020 and how tech will impact our industry and marketing going forward.

What’s your View? Email me directly at

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