Companies are still experiencing initial difficulties when carrying out IoT projects. However, two recent studies show that this could all change in 2018.
There is no stopping the IoT. According to Gartner, over 11 billion devices will be connected in 2018. 4 billion of these will be in the business sector. By 2020, more than half of major business processes could contain an IoT component. After all, the “network of networks” is without doubt the key technical basis for digital business models. And anyone who wants to connect the physical and digital worlds must have an understanding of the IoT. Studies by IDC and Vodafone now show how far companies in Germany have come.
The first step is always the hardest
IoT projects in Germany are still beset by initial difficulties. In particular, the great complexity when selecting technologies and providers makes it harder to get going for a quarter of companies questioned in an IDS survey in January 2018. This is exacerbated by the lack of integrated IIoT solutions and a fear of resulting security flaws in IT systems.
Just under 1,300 global decision-makers were questioned as part of the “Vodafone IoT Barometer 2017”. They too regard possible security flaws as a major obstacle. 18 percent fear security breaches and 15 percent data protection problems. This is followed by budget problems (14 percent) and a lack of internal know-how (10 percent). Three quarters of the companies rely on external companies when carrying out IoT projects.
However, 72 percent of the companies surveyed by IDC said that the considerable challenges would not put them off planning new IIoT projects. 88 percent of the decision-makers around the world questioned for the “Vodafone IoT Barometer” are willing to make further investments in this area given the “measurable” success achieved in the past. In this case though, the degree of connectivity correlates strongly with the return on investment (ROI) achieved. This means that companies with more than 50,000 connected devices have clear advantages over those with less than a hundred.
Not all IIoT platforms are the same
Nowadays, many providers are tempting customers with “IIoT platforms”. And not all of them do what it says on the label. Essentially speaking, they link devices and applications across systems on the Internet of Things. Third-generation platforms also include analysis functions such as cluster analyses and machine learning.
20 percent of the companies surveyed by IDC already work with a platform and another 51 percent are planning to use one this year. As revealed by the Vodafone IoT Barometer, almost half of those surveyed use the IoT for analytical procedures. 79 percent expect to see greater integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
The connectivity jungle
As far as transmission technologies are concerned, companies are spoiled for choice. According to IDC, anyone who does not take into account all factors such as costs, range, battery life, bandwidth and scalability will quickly end up with a “show stopper”. At the moment, mobile communications (40 percent), cable (38 percent) and close-range connections such as WLAN or Bluetooth (34 percent) are used. With just 12 percent, innovative technologies such as Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) play only a minor role. According to IDC, however, this could change in the future. After all, the name says it all: low energy consumption, large range!
Core vs. edge vs. endpoint
The “decision time window” determines the location for data processing. As production becomes automated, real-time analyses and decisions will be essential. In many cases, there will be no time to cover the distance to the data center (core computing). The data analysis must take place close by (edge) or in the IoT endpoint itself. According to IDC, up to 40 percent of IoT data could be affected by next year. At the moment, 14 percent of the companies questioned use edge computing and a further 32 percent would like to start using it by the end of the year.
The results of the studies show that IIoT is no longer a distant dream both nationally and internationally – it is in fact a key factor in the digital transformation. At least in Germany, 2018 could very well go down in history as the year of the IoT breakthrough.
To the studies
For the Vodafone IoT Barometer 2017, the British B2B market research institution Circle Research questioned companies around the world on behalf of Vodafone, asking them about their use of IoT applications. 1,278 people from 13 countries and eight sectors took part in the survey.
You can download all the results of the IoT Barometer 2017/18 at vodafone.de/IoT.
In order to provide insights into the implementation plans, the challenges and the success factors for IoT technologies, IDC surveyed 444 organizations with more than 100 employees from eight key sectors in Germany in January 2018.
Companies can request a summary of the latest study free of charge here.
Learn more about networked embedded systems and artificial intelligence at the electronica Cyber Physical Systems Conference (CPS).