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Security concerns remain a major barrier to IoT adoption

Survey finds that internet of things decision-makers regard security as a short-term focus and see 5G as able to ‘transform the industry” in the medium to long term

Research from Internet of Things World in partnership with Omdia, covering both providers and enterprise users, has found that despite benefits from internet of things (IoT) technology, an overwhelming majority of businesses harbour fears of IoT-related breaches to their infrastructures.

As many as 85% of the survey of 170 IoT industry leaders believe that security concerns remain a major barrier to IoT adoption. Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that end-to-end IoT security is their top short-term priority, surpassing edge compute (55%), artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning (50%) and 5G deployments (28%).

Underlining the complexity they face in protecting their IoT deployments and data, as well as their existing communications networks, end users reported using three to four different IoT security methods on average.

The three most common methods offered by providers and employed by enterprises to ensure security included end-to-end data encryption (60%), regular firmware and software update policies (54%), and checking on the physical security of devices (44%). 

Indicating that IoT is still a key strategic play for adopters rather than a simple IT purchase, the survey found that nearly half (45%) of respondents said that C-level management had the greatest influence on IoT purchasing decisions.

Looking where and how IoT will be deployed, and in what form, the research revealed that 5G and AI-enabled IoT systems are expected by 2025 to have the biggest impact on automotive and transport (66%), energy and utilities (47%), and manufacturing (44%).

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents expect AI to be embedded into all IoT solutions in the next five years, while two-thirds of respondents (66%) said sustainability will be a top three driver for IoT innovation over the coming five years.

Looking at gating factors, the survey noted that nearly half (49%) of IoT providers see the lack of IoT skills in their customers as the greatest challenge to deploying or scaling IoT projects. Echoing this, 59% of enterprise end users also identified a lack of internal IoT expertise as their main challenge. Half of the respondents said the most important boost needed to drive the IoT market forward is more real-life deployment and business case examples.

When it came to the medium- to long-term focus for IoT industry leaders, 81% agreed that 5G would “transform” the industry. The top two benefits from 5G deployment are expected to be the ability to manage a massive number of IoT devices (67%) and the ability to achieve ultra-low latency (60%), allowing businesses to be even more agile. 

In a call to action from the findings of the study, Alexandra Rehak, IoT practice head at Omdia, urged enterprises and providers to work together to prioritise and support IoT security requirements.

“Providers need to make sure IoT security solutions are simple and can be easily understood and integrated,” she said. “Given how high a priority this is for enterprise end users, providers also need to do more to educate customers as well as providing technology solutions to help ensure IoT security is not a barrier for adoption.”

Covid-19 is expected to affect IoT in 2020,” added Zach Butler, director of IoT World. “Despite this, Omdia forecasts potential in some segments including connected health, as innovators use IoT technologies to tackle some of the pressing crises of the moment.

“Long-term, there is little doubt that 5G will change the face of IoT, particularly in the automotive and manufacturing sectors. Right now, however, the focus is on laying the groundwork to take full advantage of it. For enterprises, that means shoring up their security and implementing their AI and edge technologies.”

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