More household product manufacturers are slowly but surely introducing digital aspects to their design. Even gadgets like thermostats and smoke detectors are using the internet and wireless communication to feed information and use it to create a better lifestyle experience.It’s called the “internet of things”, and it’s much more than a trend – it’s an inevitability.

A new study from Gartner has predicted the market for inter-connected devices will be worth as much as $309 billion by 2020.

“A smart vending machine is not the [internet of things],” analyst Jim Tully told ZDNet.

“But when that vending machine is smart enough to check if it’s empty, place an order to be replenished, deliver the order, complete the order and get the finished order to the customer and all without needing an operator, then that is the IoT in action.”

Overall, it says, the value of the IoT market could crow above $US1 trillion.

While the internet of things will create an entirely new market for consumer devices, providing businesses with significant opportunities, it also places incredible expectation on all types of enterprise. Smart devices will create an expectation among consumers that products will “just work”, a trait that will filter through to all types of other devices and offerings – including software and even non-digital products.

The internet of things will provide significant opportunities for businesses to harvest data about consumers – but the more critical ramification is that it will create an age of convenience. Consumers will expect precision from businesses, especially when accessing data – anything less would put businesses behind the pack.