IDC says IoT adoption is on the rise – but is it...
Vodafone claims to surpass 50 million IoT connections, but how useful are the numbers?
Vodafone claims to surpass 50 million IoT connections, but how useful are the numbers?

IDC says IoT adoption is on the rise – but is it really?

A new IDC survey reveals that the market is maturing as businesses move away from proof of concepts to scalable Internet of Things (IoT) deployments. Other analysts, however, aren’t convinced.

The survey, which asks IT and business decision-makers about their perceptions and experience of the Internet of Things, found that the number of organizations that launched IoT deployments in the last 12 months has increased by 31.4 percent. Almost half said that they are looking to deploy in the next 12 months.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of businesses surveyed view IoT as a means to become more efficient. What’s surprising is that the short-term focus is on operational benefits over the desire to improve customer experience.

According to IDC, business decision-makers believe that IoT technology can improve the productivity of their workforce, and automate a number of internal processes, which will ultimately reduce costs.

The security and ongoing costs of IoT continue to be concerns, but it seems that as more organizations look to deploy a solution, the realization that internal skills are not up to scratch has become more stark. Sadly, this lack of skills is not a new problem.

“Setting strategies, finding budgets, and supporting IoT solutions have contributed to an ongoing tussle between line of business executives (LOBs) and CIOs. However, that race may be over, because in many cases LOBs are now both leading the discussions and either paying in full or sharing the costs of IoT initiatives with the CIOs,” said Vernon Turner, senior vice president of enterprise systems and IDC fellow for the Internet of Things in a statement.

“This demonstrates the next stage of any innovation cycle,” according to Andrew Tarver, founder of Jigsaw – a business transformation start-up.

In exclusive comments to Internet of Business, Tarver said: “We are now seeing the innovators and fast followers, which typically represent 18 percent of the marketplace, joined by the early adopters.”

But will IoT adoption match expectations?

That said, other analysts have questioned whether the Internet of Things is really on track to meet expectations and whether or not these projects will truly be successful.

Following today’s release of its ‘Global Assessment of the Cellular IoT Connectivity Market’ study, Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO at Beecham Research, said: “The IoT market is certainly gaining pace across every part of the world, but despite this it is not on track to reach the rather over-optimistic predictions made by some industry commentators.”

Beecham’s assessment found that the cellular IoT connections – from 2G to 5G – reached almost 261 million at the end of 2015 and predicts that this will approach 1.22bn in 2021, but there is no one-size fits all approach to Internet of Things adoption across the globe.

The Mexican market is driven by transport including connected cars, while Argentina is focused is on smart city projects, according to the analyst house.

However, Duke-Woolley feels it is important “that companies can make informed investment decisions based on accurate market information and achievable growth targets and timescales.”

“We are already seeing some IoT start-ups close after getting carried away by the hype and large organisations are now looking more carefully at their IoT business plans, so we need to inject a degree of realism,” he concluded.

Related: Analyst warns businesses of Internet of Things hype

Measuring success

Approaching IDC’s research from a different angle, Clive Longbottom, analyst at Quocirca, believes that, while IDC’s projection of growth in IoT projects may be correct, “it does not seem to have attempted to gauge how likely these projects are to be successful.”

“It is one thing running a proof of concept with a few tens of devices; a completely different one running a real world project with thousands, probably growing into the hundreds of thousands, over time,” he told Internet of Business.

Longbottom feels that too many Internet of Things projects are built around the concept of every device talking directly to a central database. “This is pretty much guaranteed to kill any network, due to the bursts, chatty traffic from the devices,” he continued.

“Therefore, the only successful projects will be ones that use a specific IoT/E architecture, where data traffic is minimized on the main network through the use of intelligent aggregators.”

For Andrew Tarver, the key to success is when “analytics, AI, cloud and security are adopted in parallel. IoT without AI is like light bulbs but without security.”

The ‘IDC Global IoT Decision Maker Survey’ was conducted in July and August 2016 and includes over 4,500 respondents from more than 25 countries worldwide, spanning a wide array of industries (including manufacturing, retail, utilities, government, health, and finance).

Related: IT managers fear shortage of Internet of Things skills