2017 could be a milestone year in terms of IoT adoption, as a surge in connected devices opens up new revenue streams for companies, according to the Vodafone IoT Barometer Report.
The mobile phone operator’s fifth annual IoT Barometer Report finds that, over the last 12 months, the number of companies worldwide with more than 50,000 connected devices active has doubled. Meanwhile, more than eight of ten (84 percent) of the IoT adopters polled say that their use of IoT has grown in the last year.
Just over half (51 percent) of IoT adopters say that the technology is increasing revenues or opening up new revenue streams, while two thirds (66 percent) agree that digital transformation is “impossible” without IoT.
The IoT Barometer research surveyed 1,278 respondents in 13 countries: the US, Brazil, Ireland, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Africa, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The report says that companies in the Americas have led the way in embracing large-scale IoT projects, where 19 percent of companies using IoT have more than 10,000 connected devices. That’s compared to 13 percent in Europe and seven per cent in Asia-Pacific. Large-scale users of IoT also report some of the biggest business gains, with 67 percent of them boasting of “significant returns” from the use of IoT. Energy and utility companies are behind some of the largest IoT projects worldwide, with applications such as smart meters and pipeline monitoring.
The report claims that the range of benefits users get from IoT is also widening as adoption increases – greater business insights, reduced costs and improved employee productivity top the list globally. In Asia-Pacific, 53 percent of respondents cited increased market competitiveness as the top benefit compared to 35 percent in the Americas and 33 percent in Europe. In the automotive sector, 51 percent of companies said that IoT is helping to improve brand differentiation.
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Security remains a big barrier
But the report warned that IoT security is still the biggest barrier for organisations when it comes to deployment. However, in companies with 10,000 or more connected devices in operation, only seven percent say security is their top concern.
As the scale of IoT projects increases, so are connectivity requirements. Companies are looking to use a mix of technologies from fixed-line to low-power wide area networks (LPWAN) depending on the application.
According to the report’s authors, large-scale projects tend to use four different connectivity options, with mobile and Wi-Fi the two most popular. There is increasing interest in newer technologies such as NB-IoT, with 28 percent of all companies now considering this and other LPWAN options for new IoT projects.
Vodafone director of IoT Erik Brenneis said, “Over the five years of this report, we have seen the number of companies that have adopted IoT double, and projects have grown from small pilots to global rollouts of tens of thousands of connected devices.”
“IoT is clearly here to stay and the future looks exciting as 79 percent of adopters are saying that IoT will have an enormous impact on the whole economy in the next five years. I believe we can now say that IoT has come of age and is proving itself across all industries and geographies,” he added.
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