Challenges for IoT project implementation

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The economic potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) is undeniable, and its value is expected to reach between US$5.5 trillion and US$12.6 trillion by 2030. However, three out of four companies still face challenges of various kinds to implement IoT projects, creating barriers precisely to realize the potential of the technology. This was revealed by Inmarsat’s study “Industrial IoT in the time of Covid-19“, based on data from 450 interviews with members of the agriculture, energy utilities, mining, oil and gas, transportation and logistics sectors.

The survey showed that the adoption of IoT technologies has skyrocketed in recent years, with 77% of respondents have already implemented at least one project in this class. Furthermore, of the remaining 23% who have not yet adopted IoT, all are either currently testing some project in this vein or planning to do so in the next 18 months. The drivers driving this trend are diverse, including everything from cost efficiency, environmental sustainability, and better visibility into supply chains, to greater levels of automation and improved decision-making capabilities. 

Source : Inmarsat

However, connectivity continues to challenge IoT projects for 75% of respondents. When asked what qualities they most look for in IoT connectivity, reliability emerges as the top requirement, followed by security in second place and network coverage in third. Bandwidth and cost do not appear to be priorities, suggesting that many IoT projects, which transfer small packets of data, may forego this feature at more advanced levels. 

In addition, 54% feel unable to use data from IoT solutions effectively due to security and/or privacy concerns.  Currently, 80% of respondents share data only within their organizations.  

Source : Inmarsat

The study highlights that, generally, there is still much to be done to improve connectivity strategies for IoT, as only 37% of organizations are using some form of connectivity backup in remote areas, far from terrestrial means of communication. Only 33% of respondents have a connectivity backup option, meaning that in the event of a connection drop, 67% said their operations were paralyzed. Not to mention that applications that use autonomous vehicles or drones, for example, could generate dangerous scenarios in situations of connectivity failure. 

More challenging

Despite the high level of IoT adoption, overall, the skills gap remains a concern and is highlighted as a major barrier to the deployment of IoT projects. Among the required skill set, cybersecurity is first among them, closely followed by data science and analytics, technical support, and connectivity. Other skills mentioned are strategic development and management. 

Source : Inmarsat

Despite the existence of cybersecurity challenges for IoT solutions, they are increasingly understood, and steps are being taken to address vulnerabilities. One evidence of this is the fact that nearly half of respondents said they have internal policies in place for IoT security. A large proportion has also adopted external policies for suppliers and partners, unlike what was reported in the 2018 edition of the survey. The transportation, logistics, and mining sectors are the most confident in their approaches to addressing IoT security challenges, whiles the oil and gas segment said it has less robust policies. 

The good news is that wider IoT adoption is already making a difference in terms of operational cost savings for many organizations, with a 15% cost reduction expected by the end of the next 12 months and up to 30% by 2026. Most optimistic in this regard are respondents from the mining sector, who expect to reach up to approximately 33% in five years. 

The survey also provides a means of measuring an organization’s Internet of Things readiness against study participants, using a free IoT Maturity tool. To use the IoT Maturity tool, simply go to inmarsat.com/iot2021.

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