The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that’s been bandied about for a long time and we’re finally at a stage where it’s coming more into the forefront, in terms of the technology and consumer adoption.
IoT is starting to make a difference to many areas of our lives. Connected smart meters wirelessly track our domestic energy usage, while smart watches and smart cars are playing a small but influential role in the wider IoT movement. And this is even before we get started on connected home technologies, ranging from security sensors to connected light bulbs and even smart toasters.
However, one question is still in the back of my mind: “When will the Internet of Things really hit the big time?”
If we accept that IoT’s moment is indeed yet to come, then I’m glad to say we can put a date on it at last. In our new international study, ‘The Internet of Things, Today and Tomorrow’ we asked 3,100 execs from 20 countries about IoT. The research found a whole range of interesting ideas and attitudes, but it also told us that 2019 will be IoT’s breakthrough year. In fact 85 per cent of businesses plan to start using IoT technologies by 2019. So put a note in your diary.
What else did the study find? Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly:
- IoT is over-delivering. Yes, you heard correctly—our survey discovered an ‘expectations dividend’: the real-world benefits gained from IoT are exceeding original expectations in all areas. In other words, believe the hype (and how many times can you say that about a new technology?).
- ROI is looking good, very good. Four-fifths of companies that use IoT technology report seeing an increase in business efficiency, while the average return on investment from an IoT deployment is 34 per cent.
- A lot of people claim to know what IoT means. But few really know. A massive 98 per cent of those surveyed think they have the true definition, but there’s no consensus. Keep reading: we’ll come back to this in a moment.
- IoT has some hurdles to clear. IoT has proven its value, but barriers still exist. Cost of implementation (50 per cent), maintenance (44 per cent) and integration of legacy technologies (43 per cent) are the top three. But there is hope: technologies are already available that both cut infrastructure costs and smooth the integration process.
- IoT brings incredible opportunities, but also credible threats. Alarmingly, 84 per cent of organisations that use IoT have experienced an IoT-related security breach. As IoT continues to grow, businesses need to take steps to protect their networks and devices. Without gaining visibility of IoT activities, organisations are leaving themselves open to attack.
Things vary across regions
Arguably Europe and the wider EMEA region have a more conservative approach towards IoT today. Europe, the Middle East and Africa showing a 50 per cent take up of IoT technology, compared to 60 per cent in APAC and 66 per cent in the Americas. This could be from a lack of preparedness and a lack of willingness to explore IoT’s benefits: Currently, 17 per cent of EMEA respondents claim their IT infrastructure isn’t ready to support IoT yet—nearly double that of the Americas— but 82 per cent of EMEA companies plan to adopt IoT technologies by 2019. So there’s still a little way to go yet to take full advantage of IoT.
Things also vary across sectors
Perhaps surprisingly, the industrial industry is well ahead of the curve in its adoption of IoT. The study shows 62 per cent have already implemented IoT technologies to enhance its operations, with responses showing that it has become a crucial resource for monitoring and maintaining essential industrial functions within the sector. On the other end of the scale, Government was found to be the slowest sector when it comes to implementing IoT. Only 42 per cent of municipalities have deployed IoT devices and sensors. What’s more, over a third of IT decision makers claim their executives have little to no understanding of IoT, double the global average, suggesting that lack of education is the biggest barrier to mass adoption within the public sector.
Other sector-based findings include:
- Just 49 per cent of retailers are using IoT technology, but 81 per cent of these report improved customer experiences.
- Across the healthcare sector, 42 per cent of executives rank monitoring and maintenance as the number one use of IoT—higher than all other sectors.
- In the industrial sector, 83 per cent report increased business efficiency thanks to IoT, and another 80 per cent have found improved visibility across the organisation.
IoT has already made its mark
We’ve already seen some fantastic examples this year showing the impact IoT is making on the world. From Ford’s ten-million selling in-car SYNC system, featuring an automated emergency services link in the event of a crash, to the flood of healthcare applications such as Boston Children’s Hospital’s revolutionary use of smartphones to help detect and fight respiratory disease, IoT isn’t just for the tech geeks, looking for a way to be constantly connected to the internet via data sharing. It’s revolutionising how businesses and public sector companies alike operate to make a real difference.
This means business
Talking about IoT’s achievements brings us neatly to what IoT means. You’ll remember from our survey that a single, coherent definition of IoT has so far eluded companies across the world, so who better to give the final word than Kevin Ashton. A renowned tech pioneer, Ashton coined the phrase ‘Internet of Things’ back in 1999. Little did he know how his new phrase would be used and abused.
In his new eBook ‘Making Sense of IoT’, commissioned by Aruba, Ashton offers this as a definition:
“What is the Internet of Things? It is not connecting everyday objects like toasters and refrigerators to the Internet. Products like these exist, but it is hard to see why… What defines the Internet of Things is data capture… The ‘Internet of Things’ means sensors connected to the Internet and behaving in an Internet-like way by making open, ad hoc connections, sharing data freely and allowing unexpected applications.”
In short, IoT is now serious stuff. Just spare a thought for those poor smart toasters.
Morten Illum, VP of EMEA, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company
Image Credit: Melpomene / Shutterstock