The Covid-19 pandemic has forced almost all businesses to change their working practices and priorities in a matter of weeks, with more than three-quarters of adopters increasing the pace of internet of things (IoT) projects, according to Vodafone’s 2020 IoT spotlight research.
The global study aims to understand the ongoing impact of IoT as it is adopted and deployed by businesses of all sizes worldwide, and investigates the relationship between IoT, business strategy, resiliency and success.
It features responses from 1,639 businesses globally, exploring how they are using IoT and how it is helping them prepare for the future. The 13 markets covered include the US, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Africa, China, Ireland, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
Fundamentally, adopters believed IoT was vital to keep them going, with 84% indicating that the technology was key to maintaining business continuity during the pandemic. As a result, the majority of adopters (84%) now viewed the integration of IoT devices with workers as a higher priority, and 73% agreed that the pandemic would accelerate their adoption plans.
In addition, IoT was seen to be continuing to generate value and return on investment (ROI) for adopters, and 87% agreed their core business strategy has changed for the better as a result of adopting IoT. Almost all (95%) said that they have achieved ROI, and 55% of adopters have seen operating costs decrease by an average of 21%.
The sample also indicate that the key benefits of implementing IoT ranged from improving operational efficiency to creating new connected products and services. From a business perspective, the study observed that data was the key to future readiness, with principal benefits of IoT deployments including boosted employee productivity (49%) and improved customer experience (59%).
IoT data was also seen as becoming essential to support businesses’ decision-making (59%), and the majority of adopters (84%) thought that IoT would allow them to do things they couldn’t do before. IoT data was also helping 84% of businesses meet their sustainability goals.
Vodafone Business said that enterprises were seeing IoT as an essential element of being future-ready, enabling new ways of working, with the benefits were clearly outweighing the risks – so much so that 73% of firms said that organisations which failed to embrace IoT will have fallen behind within five years.
Coupled with the improvements in brand differentiation and competitiveness (43%) showed by mature adopters of IoT, Vodafone said the study proves businesses that embrace this technology believe the opportunities it offers greatly outweigh the challenges of implementation.
As regards the latter, while cyber security was one of the main barriers to willingness to adopt IoT in previous years, the report saw the concerns significantly reducing, with only 18% of businesses seeing it as one of the top three barriers to IoT adoption.
“IoT has grown up. It’s no longer just about increasing return on investment or providing cost savings to businesses – it’s changing the way they think and operate,” said Erik Brenneis, internet of things director at Vodafone Business.
“It’s giving companies an opportunity to re-design their operations and future-proof their business model. This research proves IoT is an essential technology for businesses that want to be resilient, more flexible and quicker to adapt and react to change.”