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How the business landscape is adopting IoT

Chris Woolcott Director 17/09/2019

The Internet of Things is going deep before it’s going wide

Having been first coined as a term in 1999, for a while now the Internet of Things (IoT) has been touted as one of the “next big things” in the commercial world - one which would unleash exponential value to both individuals and businesses.

Does this mean IoT has been a flop so far? Absolutely not!

There has clearly been growth. When Vodafone launched their IoT (M2M) barometer back in 2013 in partnership with Savanta, only 12% of businesses were using M2M, whereas  in the 2019 version of the research, over a third (34%) are. But that means two thirds are not using it and, you could reasonably argue, we’ve seen less of an inundation of innovative new IoT use cases than may have been expected based on the hype.

In fact, a recent Forbes article explored how the reality of IoT had not met up to the expectations of previous years – in particular, with the widely spread prediction of ”50 billion devices connected by 2020” being rounded down to a *cough* measly 20 billion.

Does this mean IoT has been a flop so far? Absolutely not!

What Vodafone’s Barometer shows us is that while there is some way to go in terms of breadth, the depth of benefits that many adopters have experienced are as exciting and all-encompassing as predicted. Some key stats show us that amongst users of the technology – IoT has been the revolutionary force that was expected:

  • 95% of adopters are seeing benefits
  • 76% of adopters say their IoT projects are mission-critical
  • 79% say IoT is enabling positive outcomes that would be impossible without it
  • One in 12 say their “entire business now depends on IoT”

Just ask Amazon, which has saved £22 million per year with IoT-enabled robots. Or Harley-Davidson, which has used it to transform its manufacturing process – shrinking a 21-day production schedule down to just six hours. Convincing them that IoT hadn’t met expectations may be greeted with raised eyebrows to say the least.

What are others in my industry doing regarding IoT technology – and why am I not following them?

5G will change the way we think about IoT

What does the future hold then? Well, to coin a mobile-related phrase “the future is bright”.

With the dawn of 5G upon us, the widespread view is that we will see this break down further barriers regarding the potential of IoT and many new and exciting use cases are likely to emerge because of it. In the same way that the advent of 3G lit the touch-paper for the smartphone market, 5G is set to be the catalyst for the future of connected “things”.

It’s such an important topic that all companies with even a loosely technical component will need to be asking themselves a number of questions:

  • What are others in my industry doing regarding IoT technology – and why am I not following them?
  • Are there use cases that I’ve missed – or that have gone unnoticed – which could give me a boost over my competitors?
  • How do I make sure I’m keeping on top of the growth of 5G and how it will impact on my business’s potential for connectivity?

For the moment, IoT remains a “deep” technology and 5G will only increase that depth. The potentially more interesting point though is that it’s just as likely to cause an explosion in “breadth”. Those not utilising IoT once 5G becomes established, could find themselves to be rapidly falling behind.

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