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Vodafone on IoT – “The future is here” (Reader Forum)

The internet of things (IoT) provides a myriad of opportunities across a wide range of sectors. The possible applications are both far-reaching and exciting, with the potential to radically transform the way modern businesses operate, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

Technology applications like accurately monitoring a patient’s health from another city, capturing information on soil temperature from a field three hectares away or managing multiple factories from a remote site no longer belong to a dinstant future but have instead become part of today’s business reality.

The internet of things is a bridge between current needs and future possibilities for businesses. But what is the reality of IoT today?

The current state of IoT

IoT is already transforming industries and businesses all over the world and rapidly becoming “business as usual”. Vodafone’s IoT Barometer, published earlier this year, reported that adoption of the technology is increasing, with more than a third (34%) of businesses surveyed now using IoT, and the great majority of adopters (84%) saying they have more confidence in it than a year ago.

Adoption is also seen as providing a competitive advantage, as 74% of adopters believe that within five years, companies that aren’t using IoT will have fallen behind.

This is not surprising, as for those who have adopted and integrated IoT projects in their core systems the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Spanning from cost reductions to improved safety, increased responsiveness and even the creation of entirely new revenue streams, it’s undeniable IoT is making businesses smarter and more efficient.

Interestingly, the report also finds that the majority of more advanced adopters are using analytics (80%) to get more from the data they gather to improve business decision-making. This greatly enhances the value of the data collected from IoT devices and is a clear example of how essential the internet of things is to steady and continued digital transformation.

And while it’s true that higher levels of IoT integration, and commitment to the technology, correlates to greater businesses rewards, enterprises at every stage of their IoT journey can enjoy the advantages. Even organisations that have just implemented their first IoT projects report benefits.

With this in mind, for many businesses, it’s no longer a case of whether to implement IoT, but when and how.

Barriers to IoT adoption

IoT adoption has increased significantly over a year, going up by five percentage points since Vodafone published the previous IoT Barometer. While many businesses haven’t yet implemented an IoT strategy, mainly because of doubts around cost and ease of execution, starting out in IoT is now easier than ever.

For instance, thanks to the widespread use of IoT applications, there are now commercial off-the-shelf products available which offer a quick starting point for companies that want to digitise. Even more interestingly, IoT enablement platforms that combine application development with connectivity options make it simpler and less risky to build, deploy and manage connected solutions effectively.

Reducing uncertainty makes it easier than ever to implement complex IoT programs and integrate them with existing infrastructure, even for smaller businesses.

IoT sophistication index

One of the most interesting discoveries of this year’s IoT Barometer was the strong correlation between sophistication and the benefits adopters have seen from using IoT. This means that adopters that were excelling in both strategy (how developed their IoT plan is) and implementation (how well progressed the deployment is) were reaping the most rewards.

To offer businesses the opportunity to assess themselves against these parameters and find out how they measure up in comparison to others in their sector, the Barometer features an IoT Sophistication Index tool, which provides personalised recommendations to help businesses improve their IoT sophistication and ultimately their ROI – wherever they are in the journey of adopting IoT.

IoT innovations and the future

While it can be difficult to imagine a future full of intelligent assets that can communicate with the world around them, businesses of all sizes need to act now to ensure they switch to a digital-first mindset to keep thriving.

IoT is that change agent that allows a business to compete in a digital world. Treating IoT as a critical part of a company’s digital strategy, integrating it with business systems and selecting the appropriate form of connectivity are all essential components of a successful IoT implementation that will deliver tangible results.

IoT is here to stay and thrive. Businesses that recognise and tap into its power and potential will be able to look at the future with confidence.

Stefano Gastaut leads Vodafone’s IoT business unit, where he is responsible for driving IoT growth, business strategy, products and profit and loss at a global level, including for the Vodafone’s automotive business.

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