Companies and organisations that initiate early adoption of IoT are more likely to recover quickly from the impact of the pandemic.

Listed below are the key macroeconomic trends impacting the IoT theme, as identified by GlobalData.


The Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses to invest more in technology. IoT technology, in particular, helped with tasks that required social distancing, remote working, or contact tracing. In a post-Covid world, many organisations consider digitalisation as their top priority, and they see IoT as one of the enablers. Remote asset access and business process automation will be prominent features in the office and factory of the future. The demand for new IoT applications will be driven in 2021 by telemedicine, smart offices, remote asset monitoring, and location tracking services.

The US vs. China

The US and China are locked in a battle for tech supremacy in 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, and other next-generation technologies. The ensuing trade war has resulted in tariffs or bans on imports and exports of various goods. It has also impacted technology transfers ranging from semiconductors to industrial robots and machinery, computer storage devices, electrical components, imaging systems, and networking equipment.

The IoT ecosystems of the US and China, which once supported a globalised supply chain, are decoupling. The trade war is impacting many IoT technology leaders, including Amazon, Apple, Cisco, Dell, Google, HPE, Huawei, Hikvision, IBM, Inspur, Intel, Microsoft, and ZTE from a supply chain point of view.

IPO activity

IoT was the fifth largest theme driving initial public offering (IPO) activity in the technology, media, and telecom (TMT) sector between 01 January 2018 and 31 December 2020, when measured by IPO proceeds raised. The first four were ecommerce, mobile, fintech, and cloud. A total of 35 IPOs where IoT was the primary thematic driver were recorded during the period, and they accounted for 5% of total IPO proceeds globally. China hosted 28 of these deals and the US hosted six deals.

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M&A activity

IoT was the seventh-largest theme driving mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the TMT sector in 2020 when measured by transaction value. The first six thematic drivers were connectivity, big data, cloud, fintech, digital media, and gaming.


IoT solutions can address a range of sustainability goals, but the manufacture of connected devices creates its own environmental issues. Firstly, it generates copious amounts of electronic waste. Many technology vendors including Apple, HPE and Samsung Electronics are launching green initiatives towards sustainable e-waste management, but there are growing calls for regulators to bring greater transparency to environmental audits to reduce the levels of greenwashing.

IoT is the key technological point for the development of smart cities. By using this technology to gather urban data and improve performance and management, city destinations can rapidly improve performance in relation to sustainability.

This is an edited extract from the Internet of Things – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.