Connectivity is an overlooked barrier to IoT

Barrier

Nearly all large enterprises are confident their existing and planned Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives will pay off, according to a recent survey.

The survey and report by research firm Vanson Bourne shows that 97% of respondents “are experiencing, or expect to experience, significant benefits from the deployment of IoT technologies” in the next few years.

Three benefits in particular were bunched at the top: improved service delivery capabilities (47%), better health and safety across the organisation (46%), and greater workforce productivity (45%).

The high percentage of respondents indicating a commitment to IoT isn’t surprising since the survey focused on four industries – agritech, energy production, transportation and mining – that are prime candidates not just for IoT, but for analytics and other smart technologies that can optimize resources and efficiency, increase productivity and improve safety.

Skills shortage

It’s also no surprise that respondents report running into challenges managing and leveraging their IoT deployments. Nearly half of respondents (47%) said their organizations lack the skills “to make the most from IoT at a delivery level,” while another 33% said they could use additional skills. Only 20% of respondents said their enterprises had all the IoT skills they need.

This general lack of in-house IoT skills is driving nearly three-quarters of respondents to find external partners to assist with either as much IoT development and deployment as possible (43%) or at least some of it (31%).

Each of the studied industry sectors has its own specific IoT concerns, goals and motivations. For example, when asked what additional specific skills they think their organizations need to deliver IoT, respondents from mining companies rated security skills as most necessary. Transportation companies rank “better health and safety” across the organization as the top desired benefit of IoT, followed closely by greater workplace productivity and improved service delivery capabilities.

Connectivity challenge

Meanwhile, 49% of agritech respondents said their “IoT initiatives are driven by regulatory challenges.” And the energy sector cites connectivity as its greatest challenge to IoT deployment (54%), with nearly one-quarter of survey respondents (24%) from that industry believing connectivity issues threaten to derail their IoT initiatives before they have even begun.

“Without the connectivity to transfer IoT data to the right place for analysis, it is useless,” the report concludes. “A common challenge for the sectors that we surveyed is the remoteness of their operations. Whether it is an opencast mine, oil rig or farm, each of them faces a challenge in getting the level of connectivity that they require.”

That being said, connectivity is important anywhere you want to deploy IoT, whether it’s in a remote jungle or booming metropolitan area. The network simply has to be up to the job.

“Even in city areas, transport networks struggle with the reliability of connectivity to maximise the use of IoT-based solutions,” the survey report says.

Vanson Bourne interviewed 500 executives from enterprises with 1,000 or more employees for the survey, which was commissioned by global mobile satellite communications provider Inmarsat.

RELATED LINKS

IoT spending increases as strategies mature

IoT devices: Security and privacy before you hit ‘okay’

Man the barricades? The future of the network fortress

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