IoT is the ‘new industrial revolution,’ says Vodafone

The enterprise is seeing return on IoT investment. And the tech genre is now a quarter of IT budgets.

IoT is the ‘new industrial revolution,’ says Vodafone
Credit: Leaflet

Globally, 63 percent of companies involved in Internet of Things projects are “seeing significant returns on investment,” says Britain-based telco Vodafone.

The supplier and network recently published its annual state-of-the-IoT industry report that it calls an IoT barometer. Vodafone interviewed 1,100 business executives around the world via Circle Research to try to gauge companies’ participation in IoT.

Budgets are increasing, the vendor says. Almost all companies (89 percent) say they are increasing IoT spend, with many (76 percent) believing the tech genre “will be critical to their success,” the report says.

“IoT is being used to drive business change,” according to the report. Incredibly, 37 percent of those businesses that have adopted IoT say they now run their entire business on it. Almost half (48 percent) believe their use of IoT will “support large-scale business transformation.”

Other findings include that there is now a synergy between IoT and “cloud, mobile, analytics and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).”

ERP is management software that enterprises use for administrative tasks, such as those related to technology and human resources.

That synergy is manifested through 90 percent of IoT “adopters” integrating IoT with cloud and so on. And that shows in the budgets. IoT spending makes up 24 percent of IT budgets, whereas cloud and hosting are close to that with 23 percent. Analytics comes in at 22 percent, and mobility is at 23 percent. All even, then.

Vodafone Group owns, operates and partners mobile networks in numerous countries, but it also has a telco and IT services arm called Vodafone Global Enterprise, which is involved in IoT. That division produced the report, which is its fourth annual.

In terms of business transformation, the main use of IoT (64 percent) appears to be automating processes, closely followed by the enabling of connected products at 59 percent.

Interestingly, in a 2015 study, Vodafone found that businesses were very aware “that [machine to machine] was about improving business processes, not about buying technology.” That’s echoed in this year’s report, where “the top performers are those that treat their IoT initiatives as business projects instead of IT purchases.”

By that, Vodafone stresses that IoT is a “business initiative” rather than a “technology.” That's easier to pitch to stakeholders, maybe. And it comes to that assumption in part because of data generated. "IoT is all about data,” it says.

How businesses use IoT

And the businesses interviewed for the report, who are embracing IoT, agree. Eighty-one percent of all businesses say "IoT can only deliver real value if you effectively use the data it generates.” That kind of data use can include integration with IT, such as giving workers “access to IoT data from mobile devices” and integration with ERP, among other use.

Big business was “boiling” with IoT ideas, Vodafone found, quoting one European-based utility that was working on smart metering, smart security cameras instead of guards and remotely managed electric automobiles.

Another company, Philips Lighting, “has put IoT at the heart of its strategy,” Vodafone says. It’s working on projects to “remotely monitor and control street and building lighting.”

Some other projects mentioned in the report include wind turbines, digital signage, smart parking and remote healthcare.

Vehicles, facilities, safety, supply-chain processes and connected products and services are all ripe for IoT, the study suggests.

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