The end of one year signals the time to start making predictions for the next. With respect to the Internet of Things (IoT), Vodafone America's head of IoT, Andrew Morawski, predicts the key question will no longer be if businesses will adopt IoT but how they will leverage it.
Accordingly, he foresees that IoT will be purchased together with other essential IT components -- such as cloud, mobile and analytics -- that would be integrated as a comprehensive solution. Following up on an earlier Q&A with Telco Transformation, Morawski expects that Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) will contribute to both increased adoption and better security. (See Morawski: Vodafone to Launch NB-IoT Next Year.)
He also predicts that security will improve as a result of a holistic approach on the part of businesses that work with their IoT suppliers to manage and minimize risks. Here's more on what Morawski sees in his crystal ball for 2017.
Telco Transformation: How are businesses currently using IoT, and do you expect that to change in 2017?
Andrew Morawski: From connected cars and smart parking to remote healthcare and more, there are countless Internet of Things applications designed to improve communication and transform businesses all over the world. In 2017, just adopting IoT will no longer serve as a differentiator for businesses. IoT applications will be fully ingrained in IT landscapes and digital strategies. The focus will shift to how businesses leverage IoT, whether it is a highly visible technology that helps drive revenue or process efficiency, or an intrinsic part of the business environment.
TT: How are businesses currently using IoT, and do you expect that to change in 2017?
AM: From connected cars and smart parking to remote healthcare and more, there are countless Internet of Things applications designed to improve communication and transform businesses all over the world. In 2017, just adopting IoT will no longer serve as a differentiator for businesses -- IoT applications will be fully ingrained in IT landscapes and digital strategies. The focus will shift to how businesses leverage IoT, whether it is a highly visible technology that helps drive revenue or process efficiency, or an intrinsic part of the business environment.
TT: Which industries will lead in IoT adoption in 2017?
AM: While all industries have the potential to recognize IoT’s value, we think any industry that deals with customer engagement will start to see increased adoption of IoT technologies. In fact, we've already seen that IoT applications of all kinds are making noticeable impacts on employee and customer experiences, but this will increase in 2017. As businesses continue to integrate IoT, certain sectors will naturally start to take the lead and change the ways businesses engage with their customers. These sectors include automotive (through the connected car) and healthcare (through m-health), among others.
For example, at Vodafone we're working with ASD Healthcare to provide connectivity to devices that enable healthcare professionals to monitor patients and clinical trial participants as they receive treatment from their homes. By adding this connectivity, patients can join clinical trials for specific treatments without having to leave the comfort of their home -- dramatically transforming the overall patient experience. It also gives clinicians more visibility and control of how patients are reacting throughout the treatment process with real-time data.
TT: What do you think will happen with Narrowband-IoT in the upcoming year?
AM: We will see more businesses using Narrowband-IoT, which is an industrial grade Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network solution that can connect products like utility meters, smoke alarms or even parking spots. NB-IoT offers a long-range mobile connection with low power consumption, making it useful for devices that impact infrastructure. Since NB-IoT leverages a licensed spectrum, it also provides added security for IoT programs.
TT: Why do you anticipate that IoT and other IT components like cloud, mobile and analytics will be purchased together as part of a fully integrated, total solution?
AM: IoT will be regarded as an intrinsic feature of business, and will be indistinguishable from other standard business processes. For example, IoT applications will be considered essential to modern warehouse systems, company car fleets and more. Business-led approaches to procuring and managing IoT will dominate in order to drive measurable results. This will lead to IoT and other crucial IT components such as cloud, mobile and analytics to be purchased together as part of a fully integrated, total solution.
TT: Are businesses already realizing results from their IoT applications, or is that something that they are still waiting on?
AM: IoT is already driving revenue growth for adopters, especially in the Americas. The 2016 Vodafone Barometer Report found 55% of IoT adopters in the Americas reported more than 20% growth in revenue. Looking specifically at the top industries recognizing the value of IoT, 86% of businesses in the industrials sector -- including companies in mining, construction and waste management -- say they've seen "significant" return from implementing IoT.
TT: Among the businesses that have been running IoT projects long enough to see results, what are the key differences between those that have proven to be successful and those that did not?
AM: We're seeing that the companies that have adopted IoT -- compared to those that haven't -- allow IoT to play a major role in helping redefine their business to meet the rapidly changing demands of today's customers. In fact, 48% of companies globally are using IoT to support large scale business transformations such as helping to change a manufacturing business into a service company.
One example is Kärcher, which is a manufacturer of cleaning gear for private, commercial and industrial organizations. With Vodafone, Kärcher worked to develop "Kärcher Fleet," an extensive fleet management service that leverages IoT to transmit data such as condition, type of operation, maintenance state, or which user is logged across its fleet of machines.
All of the data is then received at the Vodafone Remote Monitoring and Control (RMCS) platform, which then presents the data on customer dashboards who can optimize the use of their machines. Overall, it's added a service offering for Kärcher in addition to just manufacturing equipment.
TT: Are concerns about IoT security still preventing some businesses from tapping into the data they can gain from it?
AM: The security of IoT is incredibly important and definitely needs to be top of mind with companies that are looking to adopt. While it may be an adoption barrier for some, what we've seen at Vodafone is that many adopters are cautiously optimistic about working with their IoT providers to control risk.
Looking at the 2016 Vodafone IoT Barometer again, while 30% of survey respondents said they have changed or restricted the scope of IoT projects to limit security risks, 75% say that security risks are a fact of life, and more than 60% say they already have the necessary skills, processes and technology to manage IoT security. Overall, the companies that take a holistic approach across all IT security measures will be the ones that separate themselves from other IoT adopters.
TT: What can businesses do to manage and minimize IoT security risk?
AM: Cybersecurity will continue to be an important consideration for businesses when it comes to IoT applications. Businesses need to ensure they’re having conversations around cybersecurity with their IoT partner at the start. As IoT is absorbed into overall IT security measures, we will see businesses employing active practices to protect this crucial asset.
— Ariella Brown, Technology Writer, Telco Transformation