Business Technology

Britain's connected living sector could be worth £30bn by 2020

4 min read

16 November 2015

Former deputy editor

The connected living market, which includes the sharing economy, smart meters and more, is set to be worth $1 trillion (£658bn) by 2020 and the UK is set to account for a five per cent share of the market, according to PwC.

For the purpose of the study, connected living represents tech-based aspects that are found in consumers’ everyday lives.

The six sectors include: the connected home (smart meters), transport (on-demand car services), work (networking platforms), education, health (wearables) and entertainment (online streaming).

The sharing economy especially has witnessed huge support in the UK with the launch of the Sharing Economy UK (SEUK) trade body back in March 2015. It governs the market and helps to develop legislation that will support and protect both businesses in the sector, as well as the consumers they’re trying to reach.

One such development saw the body forge a partnership with Oxford University and the two organisations are working to develop consumer awareness and trust in the sector.

Seemingly it’s these types of campaigns that has led PwC to calculate the UK will account for £30bn of the connected living market by 2020.

“Up from around $215bn last year, the ‘connected living’ market will be worth $1 trillion globally by 2020, representing 29 per cent average annual growth over the period,” said Richard Boxshall, senior economist, PwC.

“The thinking about connected living inevitably focuses on technology, but that perspective should not crowd out the human factor. Changing attitudes and preferences are every bit as decisive as the technology platforms in shaping our future. In fact, it’s more likely to be people, not technology, that are the real disruptors.”

Read more on connected living:

The survey found that 30 per cent of UK consumers are connected all the time, while others consider tech merely a means to an end, which demonstrates the potential for growth that could be exploited if attitudes are changed.

PwC highlighted that disruption to industries varies significantly across the six sectors and noted the rise of digital platforms powering streaming services in the entertainment market.

It was disrupted even further in October, however, with the launch of new British business The Electric Jukebox Company. Real Business spoke to founder Rob Lewis at the celeb-backed premiere and discovered why he’s introduced a hardware element to the software-centric market.

According to Lewis, he wanted to make streaming an electrical appliance to make it easier for consumers that aren’t tech-savvy – such as those from the PwC study who consider tech a means to an end. As such, the Electric Jukebox device itself plugs in to TVs and then allows users to stream that way, rather than the common method of downloading apps and so on.

Boxshall concluded: “Change is coming to all industries. As we reach what may be tipping points for those sudden and decisive changes, businesses need to prepare for the new, more direct relationships with consumers – and develop capabilities and skills that look very different from those they operate with today.

“We’re already seeing many tech-enabled new entrants disrupting traditional industries and markets, so there is huge potential for growth in the sector and it raises questions to who will be best placed to take advantage of the opportunities connected living brings.”