We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution — at a point where we have logged more data in the past two years than in the entire history of mankind. Opportunities are all around to prosper, but also to fail if the following major global trends are not seen, understood clearly, and integrated into mid- to long-term strategic planning:

1. IoT: Technology advancements are driving cost-effective connected solutions into the hands of everyday consumers, while opening the doors to outside competition and innovation from legacy fire and burglar monitoring companies. These new consumer-focused companies, such as NEST and SimpliSafe, are changing the game when it comes to residential alarms and monitoring. Today they compete with organizations that have been in this space for decades. At a recent industry event in New York, Jeffery Gardner, President and CEO of MONI stated that only 23.8 percent of homes contain life safety alarm solutions, leaving more than 75 percent of the market ready for a life-altering solution.

2. Big Data: The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2030 more than 20 percent of U.S. residents will be age 65 or older. Because this age group drives the healthcare monitoring market, it is encouraging to see daily advancements being made within the medical industry. However, such rapid advancements, coupled with market drivers, raise the questions: Who is monitoring these signals? What are the guidelines and how do we handle them? What are the standards for response, equipment and monitoring? And which codes and regulations (local, state & federal) need to be followed? What will it take to diversify the portfolio of a fire and burglar monitoring business to include medical services?

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is powered by big/smart data that will need to be housed in secure cloud/server-based farms/networks and will continue to power real-time advancements in both video and audio recognition technologies. Facial recognition software is a proven tool in the fight against terror around the globe. Enhancements will further aid in securing so-called “soft targets,” such as public transportation hubs, sports complexes and concert venues.

4. Cyber Security: If it can be connected, it better be encrypted or the consequences could be disastrous for your brand. We were first introduced to the term “cyber security” in the mid 1980s and today it is (or should be) used when evaluating the technology solution(s) we look to deploy internally or externally to our organizations. Although we are familiar with the term, do we really understand the implications of a breach and how quickly and easily it can occur? Chief security officers and directors are now reviewing the encryption protection on all connected devices and components to secure and authenticate devices and users on the network, whether they are working internally or externally.

These four trends impacting the monitoring industry provide insight into the direction the industry is headed. They also give input on how you can both protect and optimize your products, businesses potential, brand and reputation in the future.