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Is an IoT connected world a distant future or close reality?

Stefano Gastaut

Stefano Gastaut

Internet of Things (IoT) Director, Vodafone Business

Imagine being able to monitor a patient’s health from another city, or capture information on soil temperature from a field three hectares away.

The Internet of Things (IoT) makes this possible.

It’s a technology with a potentially limitless range of applications, including sectors like agriculture, logistics, energy, transport and healthcare.

And it’s not just the scope of this technology that makes it so impactful, it’s also the scale: growing IoT adoption has the potential to transform the way modern businesses operate, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. 

The Internet of Things is a bridge between business needs now and the possibilities of tomorrow.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, the question must be raised: what is the reality of IoT today?

IoT in the world today

We do know that adoption is increasing, as highlighted in Vodafone’s IoT Barometer 2019. More than a third (34%) of businesses surveyed are now using IoT and the great majority of adopters (84%) say they have more confidence in it than a year ago.

Adoption is also seen as providing a competitive advantage, as 74% of adopters believe that within five years companies that are not using IoT will have fallen behind.

This is unsurprising, as those who have adopted and integrated IoT projects in their core systems have found the results to be overwhelmingly positive.

Interestingly, the report also finds that the majority of advanced adopters are using analytics (80%) to get more from the data they gather and inform business decision-making.

This greatly enhances the value of the data collected and is a clear example of how IoT powers steady and continued digital transformation.

And while it’s true that higher levels of IoT integration and commitment correlate to greater rewards, businesses at every stage of their IoT journey can enjoy its advantages. Even organisations that have just implemented their first IoT projects reported improvements.

For many it’s no longer a case of whether or not to implement IoT, but instead when and how.

Barriers to IoT adoption

IoT adoption has increased year on year, growing by five percentage points in just 12 months. And while many businesses haven’t yet implemented an IoT strategy, it’s now becoming easier than ever to take that first step towards adoption.

IoT enablement platforms are making it faster to design, deploy and manage connected solutions effectively.

And thanks to the widespread use of IoT applications, there are now various off-the-shelf services available which offer a quick and low-risk alternative to large scale investment.

But what about the security of these new data generating devices?

Surprisingly, adopters do not see security as a major barrier. Most (65%) reported that their security concerns about IoT are no greater than with any other new technologies.

Nevertheless, both security and privacy remain a top priority when considering an IoT solution. IoT sensors generate a huge amount of data which needs to be effectively managed and secured in a time of increasing public and regulatory scrutiny.

That is why it is essential to take a proactive approach, ensuring that devices are tested and the integrity of the network is maintained.

IoT Sophistication Index

One of the most exciting discoveries of this year’s IoT Barometer was the strong correlation between sophistication and the benefits adopters have seen from IoT.

This means that adopters who were excelling in both strategy (how developed their IoT plan is) and implementation (how well progressed the deployment is) were reaping the greatest rewards.

To offer businesses the opportunity to assess themselves against these parameters, and find out how they measure in comparison to others in their sector, the Barometer features an IoT Sophistication Index tool.

The tool provides personalised recommendations to help businesses improve their IoT sophistication and ultimately their ROI – wherever they are on their adoption journey.

IoT innovations and the future

While it is sometimes difficult to comprehend a future of intelligent assets that can communicate with the world around them, it’s rapidly becoming a reality.

Businesses need to switch to a digital-first mind-set now in order to continue thriving in the future.

IoT is the change agent that allows a businesses to compete in a digital world. Treating IoT as a critical part of a technology strategy, integrating it with business systems and selecting robust connectivity are all essential components of any successful implementation.

One thing is certain - IoT is here to stay. Businesses that recognise this and tap into its power and potential will be able to look at the future with confidence.

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