Like any crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic is also a catalyst for change. The restrictions imposed by the global pandemic have forced us to evaluate every possibility, from remote working to touchless delivery to automation and many more. This is where the Internet of Things (IoT) devices, sensors, scanners and other connected solutions are becoming a necessity. With the pandemic forcing almost all businesses to change their working practices and priorities in a matter of weeks, research reports and numerous use cases have further substantiated that IoT is becoming a catalyst for business continuity during challenging times and will continue thereafter.
According to Vodafone’s 2020 IoT spotlight research, IoT has played a vital role in supporting business continuity as the COVID-19 crisis hit companies across the globe. The global study that polled nearly 2000 businesses in 13 markets including India showed that more than three-quarters of respondents have increased the pace of IoT projects during the pandemic.
Essentially, adopters of the technology 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 study showed 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.
The study also showed that IoT continues 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.
“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.
According to Ashvin Vellody, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, “For businesses across the globe, numerous IoT use cases exist for most industry sectors where IoT, along with other exponential technologies, is driving operational efficiencies, newer business models, and smarter and sustainable communities.”
“With the proliferation of connected devices and evolving AI capabilities, the applicability of IoT is set to expand for businesses, consumers, and citizens,” says Vellody.
With the emergence of IoT applications in diverse verticals, enterprises can now leverage the use of innovative technology to accelerate digitalization and create new opportunities.
For example, restaurants may have to attest to food quality in real time, municipalities may start deploying smart meters, employees may have to work in a more remote yet connected setup, and automatic disinfectants may be a norm in public places such as hotels, shopping malls, gyms and movie halls to improve air quality and cleanliness.
The healthcare and wellness industry is developing innovative applications with wearables for remote monitoring, disease prediction and diagnosis. The agriculture industry is experimenting with more efficient irrigation and soil monitoring through connected IoT technologies.
However what’s acting as a barrier to the increased adoption of IoT is a lack of vision and short-term value realization, lack of right talent and skills for implementing and maintaining IoT ecosystem. The other challenge is that with its large bandwidth and low latency, 5G network is uniquely suited for IoT connectivity.
Besides, technical challenges of connectivity, compatibility, interoperability, and cybersecurity are other key barriers to IoT adoption in India. As Vellody explained, “IoT needs a healthy ecosystem of vendors, OEMs, and service providers. Connections between devices and systems are a recurring challenge for implementers. Interoperability between systems is one of the major reasons contributing to failure of IoT implementation.”
From a business perspective, IoT deployments have exhaustively boosted employee productivity (49%) and improved customer experience (59%). More importantly, 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.
“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.”
According to the latest IDC report, across the world, spending on software and hardware related to IoT is projected to grow rapidly, from $726 billion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion in 2023. The report further reveals that Asia-Pacific accounted for most of the spending on IoT in 2019, with India spending $20.6 billion.
To sum up, there is no doubt that IoT is at the core of digitalization and enables new ways of working and those embracing IoT believe that the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. This year, IoT has been critical to businesses and has made the difference for adopters, widening the gap even further between those who have implemented this technology and those who haven’t. Clearly companies that have failed to embrace IoT within five years will have fallen behind, meaning IoT can create sustainable, long-term, competitive advantage. Despite the challenges of 2020, businesses are confident that IoT will play a key role in the future success of their business.