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Global industry accelerates IoT adoption in response to Covid

Research reveals enhanced development curve for industrial internet of things in 2021 across global supply chains in agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas, transport and logistics

As manufacturing increasingly turns to next-generation networks to propel their businesses, research from global mobile satellite communications provider Inmarsat has revealed a rapid increase in the maturity level of organisations adopting the industrial internet of things (IoT) since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The study, Industrial IoT in the time of Covid-19, focused on measuring the IoT maturity of global industry during the pandemic and the rise of digitised production and supply chains. It was based on interviews with 450 global respondents across the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas and transport and logistics sectors in early 2021.

Respondents from businesses with at least 250 employees from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific responsible for delivering IoT initiatives at their respective organisations were asked for their opinion on a number of key themes, such as adoption, connectivity, data, skills, security and investment.

Even though the respondents were drawn from multiple industries, the research found a general theme that IoT adoption has seen huge progress from 2020 to 2021 and that Covid-19 demonstrated the importance of IoT to their businesses, with many accelerating IoT deployments in response to the pandemic.

More than three-quarters (77%) of the organisations surveyed had fully deployed at least one IoT project, with 41% having done this in the 12-month period from the second quarter of 2020. Of the remaining 23% of respondents that had not yet fully deployed IoT projects, all were either currently trialling it, or planned to deploy or trial at least one IoT project in the next 18 months.

A further 84% of respondents indicated that they had accelerated, or intended to accelerate, the adoption of IoT in response to challenges related to Covid-19. This figure included 47% who have already accelerated IoT adoption to respond to Covid, 24% who will accelerate over the next 12 months and 14% who will accelerate beyond the next 12 months.

The 47% who had already accelerated IoT adoption were found to be less likely to state that Covid-19 had negatively impacted their ability to operate, than those yet to accelerate it, demonstrating a link between IoT and business continuity during the pandemic, said Inmarsat. Also, more than half (52%) of respondents indicated that business and operational challenges related to the pandemic have underlined the importance of IoT.

“The rapid increase in IoT deployments over the last few years highlights the considerable progress global industry has made to overcome some of the world’s most challenging forces,” said Mike Carter, president of Inmarsat Enterprise. “It is particularly interesting, though logical, that Covid-19 has further catalysed businesses to increase their reliance on Industry 4.0 technologies, and particularly the industrial internet of things, in order to maintain business continuity.

“Those businesses implementing IoT technologies ahead of their competition and across their value chains are those who stand to win in the long term. While our findings point to IoT driving significant uplifts in efficiency, sustainability and safety across global supply chains, there are areas where organisations can make improvements to draw the optimum benefits from the technology.

“Connectivity, data management, skills shortages, security threats and investment levels remain challenges as the world’s production and supply chains become increasingly digitised and intertwined.”

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