When it comes to technology, we’re constantly looking for the next big thing, and we could be seeing the build-up of it right now. Smart devices were big at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, suggesting we may just be on the cusp of what technology will have to offer us by the end of the decade. So where should investors who believe in the future of smart devices turn to for potential investment winners? Stifel analysts put together their analysis of some of the companies they see as potentially winning from this evolution in technology.

Moving into the era of “the Internet of things”

The Stifel team calls these connected or smart devices “the Internet of things.” Basically, the idea is that everything is connected to the Internet. According to their recent white paper on the topic, some estimate that the number of Internet-connected objects will grow to between 25 billion and 50 billion by 2020.

Stifel analysts took a look all the way back to 1970 and examined the different computing eras we’ve had since then, calling “the Internet of Things” the current era. They showcased the big winners in each category and provided their top suggestions of which companies may win in the next five years.

Intel

Intel could win in semiconductors

Of course there are many more companies covered in their report than could possibly be listed on that graphic, and the Stifel team broke them down into categories. Of particular interest was Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), which not only has its data center business but also the Quark CPU. Inte’s chips were featured in a number of connected devices, and the company also showcased its Edison computer at CES this year, which is supposed to serve as a connector for all these smart devices. Connectivity is expected to be an early key component of connected devices since these devices must connect to the Internet somehow.

Other companies which could have a future in smart devices is Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MCHP), which has a portfolio of low-cot low-power SoCs, as well as numerous other products which could have uses in connected devise. Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ:BRCM) is also known for its connectivity solutions.

Oracle, Microsoft could win in enterprise

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) are expected to continue being big players in the enterprise sector. Specifically, Stifel analysts see both companies as benefiting from the explosion in data which will occur as a result of increasing use of sensors. Other potential winners in this area include International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) and Teradata Corporation (NYSE:TDC).

Qualcomm sees early entry into wearables

Of course wearable computing devices are also expected to be a big part of the Internet of things, and Stifel analysts see QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) and Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) as being potential winners here, saying that they “have been the most vocal thus far” in terms of wearable devices.