IoT projects doubled in past year, says Vodafone

The number of large-scale IoT projects doubled in the past year, according to Vodafone’s fifth annual IoT Barometer Report, a global survey of business sentiment regarding investment and innovation in the IoT.

The report found that the percentage of companies with more than 50,000 connected devices active has doubled in the past 12 months, and 84 per cent of IoT adopters say that their use of IoT has grown in the past year. Just over half of IoT adopters say the technology is increasing revenues or opening up new revenue streams. And two-thirds of all companies agree that digital transformation is impossible without the IoT.

Businesses in the Americas have led the way in embracing large-scale IoT projects, where nearly a fifth of companies using the IoT have more than 10,000 connected devices, compared with 13 per cent in Europe and seven per cent in Asia Pacific.

The large-scale users also report some of the biggest business gains with two-thirds of them highlighting significant returns from the use of the IoT. Energy and utility companies are at the forefront of the largest IoT projects worldwide, with applications such as smart meters and pipeline monitoring.

The range of benefits that users are getting from the IoT is also widening as adoption increases – greater business insights, reduced costs and improved employee productivity top the list globally. In Asia Pacific, just over half of respondents cited increased market competiveness as the top benefit compared with 35 per cent in the Americas and 33 per cent in Europe. In the automotive sector, 51 per cent of companies say the IoT is helping improve brand differentiation.

Security in the IoT is still the biggest barrier for organisations regarding deployment. However, in companies with 10,000 or more connected devices in operation, only seven per cent say security is their top worry. Organisations are taking more steps to tackle security concerns including an increase in security training for existing staff, working with specialist security providers and recruiting more IT security specialists.

As the scale of IoT projects increases, the report also notes a rise in 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. Typically, large-scale projects use four different connectivity options with mobile and wifi the two most popular. There is increasing interest in the newer technologies such as narrow-band IoT, with 28 per cent of all companies now considering it and other LPWAN options for new IoT projects.

“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,” said Vodafone director of IoT Erik Brenneis. “IoT is clearly here to stay and the future looks exciting as 79 per cent 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.”

The research surveyed 1278 respondents in 13 countries – USA, Brazil, Ireland, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Africa, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.