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IoT at tipping point but multi-region connectivity, device deployment hinder UK adoption

Research from connectivity specialist finds three-quarters of UK respondents say their internet-of-things project is at best only somewhat successful in meeting expectations and realising benefits, but 91% still plan increased investment

Even though the advancement of 5G networks over the past two years has made enterprise internet of things (IoT) a reality, UK organisations face challenges with connectivity, device deployment and roll-out more than their US counterparts, says a study global by IoT connectivity specialist Eseye.

The State of IoT adoption study was carried out by independent research organisation Opinion Matters among 250 UK and 250 US-based senior decision-makers and implementers of IoT strategy in five vertical markets. It explored the current state of IoT adoption; the challenges, opportunities and untapped potential of IoT; the impact of Covid-19 and how this has accelerated adoption; and the criticality of intelligent connectivity to fuel future growth.

In the study, 85% of UK respondents said IoT was a priority for their business, with just over half (54%) of respondents planning further projects over the next two to three years. Some 91% were planning budget increases for IoT initiatives, and 41% intended to boost spending by between 51% and 100%. However, three-quarters of UK respondents said their IoT project was at best only somewhat successful in meeting expectations and realising benefits.

The research showed IoT projects were increasingly being undertaken by organisations to disrupt traditional business models and deliver tangible business benefits. Asked about the benefits their IoT initiative had delivered or was predicted to deliver, 36% of UK respondents said it increased profit, 34% said it enabled the business to enter new markets, 34% said it helped to reduce costs and 29% said their initiative was aimed at delivering new lines of business.

The larger the project, the faster the acceleration of organisations embracing IoT, the study showed. The more devices that respondents had in the field, the more they were planning to deploy in the coming 12 months. This, said Eseye, indicated a tipping point in IoT projects in terms of scale. However, of 250 UK respondents, only 8% had deployed between 10,001 and 100,000 devices in the field and only 2% had deployed more than 100,000 devices.

Connectivity, device deployment and security were cited as top challenges. For 36% of respondents, device deployment and roll-out, and security had proved difficult. Cellular IoT deployments have still not reached anywhere near critical mass, with most UK respondents (90%) having deployed fewer than 10,000 devices.

But while just over two-fifths (41%) of UK respondents said connectivity was a top challenge, only 29% of their counterparts in the US concurred. Likewise, 36% of UK respondents said device deployment and roll-out was also a key issue, compared with only 28% of US respondents. Eseye suggested these differences were probably because UK respondents have more multi-region deployments than those in the US and, as a result, IoT projects have failed to reach their full potential, according to three-quarters of UK enterprises that have embarked on an IoT initiative in the past 12 months.

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UK respondents were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I think the evolution of intelligent connectivity is going to be critical to continue to fuel adoption of IoT”. Some 81% of all UK respondents either somewhat or strongly agreed with this statement. One-third strongly agreed with the statement, compared with 21% of US respondents. Nearly a quarter of US respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with this statement.

Almost every respondent said Covid-19 has impacted their IoT plans. For 28%, it had accelerated development of their IoT initiative and 30% said they had increased their investment plans. Only 19% of UK respondents had cancelled IoT initiatives because of the pandemic, compared with 33% in the US.

Cloud and remote access were cited as the top technology drivers by 48% of UK respondents, which Eseye said was surprising, given the events of the past year, with many businesses looking to accelerate their digital transformation plans with IoT initiatives. 5G was the second-highest technology driver for UK respondents with 42% compared with 35% in the US, where respondents rated LPWAN technologies (45%) and intelligent edge hardware (44%) higher.

Eseye CEO Nick Earle said the results of the survey indicated there was a level of maturity and an eagerness to fuel IoT adoption in the UK. “UK companies see IoT as a way to increase profit and reduce costs, as well as disrupt business models and introduce new product lines,” he said.

“However, adoption is not without its challenges. We know security and connectivity have been an issue for businesses rolling out large-scale IoT projects. To this point, cellular connectivity was a far bigger challenge for UK respondents than US, with 41% saying it was the biggest hurdle they had to overcome, versus 29% in the US.

“This is likely down to the fact that UK respondents are more multi-region with deployments than the US, where deployments still tend to be national and focused on the domestic market.”

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