Vodafone has recently published its fifth annual Internet of Things (IoT) Barometer Report. This is a document widely recognised as the leading global survey of business sentiment regarding investment and innovation in the IoT.
The latest missive reports that the percentage of companies with more than 50,000 active connected devices has doubled in the last 12 months, while 84% of IoT adopters say that their use of the IoT has grown in the last year. 51% of adopters are adamant that the technology is increasing revenues or opening up new revenue streams and 66% of all companies agree that digital transformation is impossible without the IoT.
Businesses in the Americas have led the way in embracing large-scale IoT projects, it seems. Here, 19% of companies using the IoT have more than 10,000 connected devices compared to 13% in Europe and 7% in the Asia Pacific region. These large-scale users also report some of the biggest business gains with 67% of them highlighting significant returns from IoT usage.
Interestingly, energy and utility companies are at the forefront of the largest IoT projects worldwide, with applications such as smart meters and pipeline monitoring very much to the fore.
Meanwhile, the range of benefits that end users are gaining from the IoT is also widening as adoption increases. Greater business insights, reduced costs and improved employee productivity top the list globally. In the Asia Pacific region, 53% of respondents cite increased market competitiveness as the top benefit compared to 35% in the Americas and 33% in Europe. In the automotive sector, 51% of companies comment that the IoT is helping them to improve brand differentiation.
As the scale of IoT projects increases, the comprehensive report also notes a rise in connectivity requirements. Companies are looking to use a mix of technologies from fixed line to low power Wide Area Networks (LP WANs) depending on the application. Typically, large-scale projects employ four different connectivity options with mobile and Wi-Fi the two most popular. There’s increasing interest in the newer technologies such as Narrowband IoT. Indeed, 28% of all companies are now considering this and other LP WAN options for new IoT projects.
It’s perhaps not surprising to learn that security around the IoT remains the biggest barrier for organisations when it comes to deployment. That said, in those companies with 10,000 or more connected devices in operation, only 7% of them highlight security as their top worry. Organisations are taking more steps to tackle security concerns including an increase in security training for existing staff, working with specialist security providers and recruiting more IT security specialists.
“What’s evident is that the IoT is becoming an important part of our lives,” writes Ben Dickson on the TechCrunch website. “Its security is one of the major issues that must be addressed via active participation by the entire global tech community. Will we be able to harness this most-hyped emerging technology that will revolutionise the world, or will we merely end up opening a Pandora’s Box that spirals the world into a new age of mayhem?”
The fervent hope must be for the former outcome.