Head of IoT Marketing, Vodafone Internet of Things
As we enter the final months of 2017, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead and making budget decisions. Whether a CEO or CIO, you’re going to be forced to face competing technology priorities. Let me explain why the Internet of Things (IoT) should be top of your list.
IoT opens up massive opportunities
Every year since 2013, we’ve published our IoT Barometer to provide an insight into how IoT is transforming the world of business. Our 2017/18 report found that organisations have great expectations for IoT. 79% of organisations that have adopted IoT think it will have an enormous or sizeable impact on the whole economy within five years. And almost three-quarters of adopters agree that digital transformation is impossible without IoT.
But this isn’t just about the promise of IoT itself. IoT is an important precursor of many transformative technologies. IoT is essential to the connected car and autonomous vehicles. It’s already playing a key role in the rise of automation — including robotics, self-service and process automation. And it’s paving the way for exciting new customer experiences, like zero-touch checkout and smart vending machines — Gartner believes more than 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by
IoT is also a key enabler of artificial intelligence (AI), which will be a top-five investment priority for nearly a third of CIOs by 2022, according to a recent Gartner study2. The value of AI is in interpreting millions of data points. IoT is providing that data. The IoT Barometer 2017/18 found that 49% of adopters are using IoT in conjunction with analytics to improve business decision-making.
As well as headline-grabbing innovations, IoT helps with perennial challenges
There are some unconventional projects out there — like the connected salt cellar and the smart toilet. But there are millions more that won’t ever hit the headlines. Things like condition-based monitoring often aren’t very glamorous — unlike connected cars or smart mirrors for example — but they can totally transform operations.
IoT is already helping companies streamline their everyday processes. According to the Barometer 2017/18, 45% of adopters report that IoT has helped improve employee productivity and 38% report improved asset utilisation. It’s also helping them cut costs. And the savings can be significant. 29% of respondents who said they’d achieved cost reductions saved more than 20%. According to McKinsey, predictive maintenance alone could save companies $630 billion by 2025.3
What starts as a seemingly unexciting use case can provide the basis for whole new ventures. We’ve seen organisations putting IoT in place to solve a specific problem or reduce costs, but then branching out and using these devices to capture other valuable data. Take the example of smart street lighting — it might start out as an energy saving initiative, but the sensors can also be used to monitor weather conditions and traffic, or to improve the safety of residents.
IoT delivers results
Nearly all of the IoT adopters that took part in our annual Barometer research said that they’d seen a return on investment (ROI). More than half of adopters said IoT is increasing revenue or opening up new revenue streams. And the returns can be significant — where organisations reported an increase in revenue, it averaged 19%.
This success is driving increased investment. 88% of adopters that report seeing significant benefits from IoT say they’re spending more on IoT now than 12 months ago. Fail to make IoT a high priority on your 2018 budget, and you could find yourself at a competitive disadvantage.
You don’t want to be left behind
When we published the first Barometer in 2013, adoption was just 12%. Since then, adoption has more than doubled, reaching 29% in 2017. But it’s not just more companies using IoT, adopters are increasing the number of projects and the number of connected devices too. In 2016, 28% of adopters had more than 1,000 connected devices; in 2017, that’s risen to 37%. And the proportion of companies with over 50,000 or more connections has doubled year-on-year. We’re seeing bigger, more integrated programmes spanning business functions.
In the five years since the first IoT Barometer, we’ve seen dramatic change. I believe that in another five years’ time IoT will be a critical part of the operations of most leading organisations — 67% of adopters already say that their IoT projects are mission-critical. Fail to make IoT a high priority and you could find yourself struggling to catch up with the pace setters.
Now’s the time to push ahead
I know that some companies have been holding off adopting IoT, waiting until the technology is proven and the business cases are more fully understood. But as you sit down to start building your plans for 2018 and beyond, there’s never been a better time to invest in IoT.
A wide range of sensors and modules are now available, IoT support has been built into many leading business applications — and with the launch of Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LP-WAN), such as Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT), companies have an even wider range of connectivity options. 28% of those that plan to adopt IoT in the future are already investigating LP-WAN technologies, with their promise of increased network coverage and greater cost efficiency.
If your IoT projects are still in development or you haven’t started yet, we can help you understand where IoT could help your business and help you accelerate your solution development. We can help you bring all your IoT projects together, integrate them with core systems and make your solutions more manageable, so you get more from your investment.