A lot has happened in the past five years.
But some of the most fundamental changes we have witnessed have been underpinned or accompanied by a rapid advancement in technology. In a fast-moving sub-sector like the Internet of Things (IoT), five years is an eternity.
In 2017, Wi-SUN Alliance published its first state of the nation report analysing the state of the IoT industry. Having revisited this landscape with a new survey of IT decision makers from UK and US IoT adopters, including smart cities, smart utilities and industrial IoT, in 2022 we are now able to explore how perspectives, attitudes and adoption patterns have changed.
IoT deemed a top priority
We can see that the IT has risen up the priority ranking for many organisations, with more than nine in 10 (92%) agreeing that they must invest in IoT technologies over the next 12 months.
Some of the top drivers for this include the need to gain a competitive advantage (29%), reduce operational costs (27%), and to create business efficiencies (25%).
For distribution automation there’s been a rise from 74% to 82%; advanced meter infrastructure is up to 80% from 68%; while smart parking has jumped from 57% to 77%; traffic lights and controls from 58% to 76%; and electric vehicle charging from 66% to 79%.
Where IoT projects were in their infancy five years ago, the market has matured, and organisations are becoming more ambitious. However, such project deployments can remain challenging.
While the number of respondents saying they have managed to fully implement their IoT strategy has fallen to 47% in 2022 (from 55% in 2017), there is a rise in those admitting it is ‘extremely difficult’ to implement IoT – up to 17% in 2022 from 14% in 2017.
This is possibly due to advancements in IoT technologies, adding complexity and broadening the scope to expand such strategies, or to the growing understanding of what a ‘fully implemented strategy’ is and what it entails.
It’s interesting that around a quarter (24%) of respondents point to security as one of the top three barriers to IoT adoption, but this is actually down from 58% five years ago. However, security and safety remain the most common technical challenges among respondents while there are growing concerns over the complexity of IT infrastructure (34% up from 24% in 2017) and the need to see proven ROI (27% up from 17% in 2017).
How can we bridge the gap?
To overcome these challenges, more support from the top is needed.
While some stakeholders clearly understand the potential of IoT to the business, others clearly don’t. In 2022, 23% of leaders are reluctant to commit to IoT solutions, up from 19% in 2017.
For smart cities in particular, industry-wide open standards for IoT deployment will be crucial according to IoT adopters. In 2017, 78% of companies felt that these were either very important or absolutely crucial, but in 2022, this has risen to 86%.
Open standards make it easier to integrate new IoT equipment and software with existing infrastructure, while using compatible networks can lower the cost of further deployments.
IoT adopters are also thinking more about keeping their connectivity options open by supporting multiple network topologies. Network topology in general is an important consideration for companies, 40% of which are looking at it when evaluating their IoT solutions.
In 2017, 58% of respondents said that they would prefer a hybrid network topology, supporting both star and mesh configurations. This number stands at 68% in 2022 and reflects a general trend towards mesh-based networking, which lost no support among those wanting to use it exclusively over the last five years
As our report name suggest, the journey to IoT is maturing. Organisations are becoming more ambitious and sophisticated in their thinking – IoT is now a bigger priority than ever across all sectors, and the scale of what is being planned over the next few years is encouraging.
But what’s clear is that this journey isn’t without its stumbling blocks. Obstacles still remain and organisations must work to overcome a mixture of technical and non-technical barriers.
– Phil Beecher, CEO and President, Wi-SUN Alliance –