For many companies, 2020 was associated with revenue losses and cost-cutting programs. However, COVID-19 has not stopped the growth of the Internet of Things – quite the opposite. The current “Internet of Things 2021” study by IDG Research Services, the publishing house behind COMPUTERWOCHE and Co., in collaboration with Device Insight, shows: 42 percent of companies in the DACH region increased their investment in IoT, even during the pandemic, and a total of 90 percent plan to do so in the coming years. Beyond that, how will the status quo of the Internet of Things appear in 2021? Which technologies and trends will shape the coming years? Here you can read an excerpt of the most important study results.
92 percent of the companies surveyed are satisfied with the results of their IoT projects to date. At the same time, the added value of IoT projects – for example in the form of increases in productivity, cost reduction or rising sales – is becoming ever more apparent. 69 percent of companies see value from their IoT projects within three months, with 13 percent even reporting immediate benefits. This impressive track record shows: the maturity of the Internet of Things is steadily increasing. Not only is the number of IoT projects increasing, but so is the experience of companies.
For most companies, the benefits of IoT are seen in the optimization of business processes and the reduction of costs. By contrast, the opportunity to tap into revenue opportunities and develop long-term innovation leads through new IoT-based business models and services such as pay-per-use or equipment-as-a-service is rarely recognized. Here, too, the previous years’ trends – unfortunately – continue: The focus is on purely increasing efficiency and less on “real” innovation.
When implementing their IoT projects, most companies rely on the support of external partners: 69 percent are bringing in experienced IoT specialists, about four percent more than last year. Only 39 percent of the companies surveyed said they developed their IoT solution entirely independently. The smaller the company, the more important external advice becomes. When considering the subject of IoT project management, the selection and implementation of the IoT platform as well as for software development, companies need additional resources.
Even if the track record is impressive, implementing an IoT project is still a complex undertaking with numerous hurdles. From the technological point of view, issues of security and data security represent the greatest challenge, while from an organizational point of view, companies continue to struggle with the adaptation of business processes and the restructuring of the corporate organization to IoT concerns.
The IoT study 2021 also shows that the Internet of Things is increasingly establishing itself as a cross-sectional technology that will be driven further by technologies including artificial intelligence or 5G. However, especially in the use of AI, the potential from a true connection of IoT and AI in the sense of an “Artificial Intelligence of Things” is far from being exhausted: Only 15 percent of the companies surveyed are already using AIoT. This is likely to change soon, as AI is on the rise and already in use in the majority of companies in various application areas, especially in the field of data analytics.
On the other hand, companies are much more hesitant when it comes to the use of 5G. The new mobile communications standard is expected to provide the necessary capacity for the transmission of IoT data in real time. However, the early development phase of this technology is currently making companies wait and see. While 86 percent of companies plan to deploy 5G in IoT scenarios, only 16 percent have commenced initial field trials.
As confirmed by the IoT study, the Internet of Things has become an indispensable part of everyday business life. Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop this steady growth. In the coming years, the number and, above all, the maturity of IoT projects will certainly continue to increase – moving from individual solutions, towards comprehensive, scalable IoT solutions. The possibilities of 5G and artificial intelligence will further accelerate this growth.
The study also shows that companies in this country are still acting too cautiously when it comes to implementing innovative IoT business models. Due to the focus on pure process optimization and cost savings, the enormous opportunities of the Internet of Things often remain untapped. After all, it is primarily new IoT-based products and services through which companies can create win-win situations for themselves and their customers, thereby achieving a decisive innovative edge in the long term.
Read the complete “Internet of Things 2021” study here (in German) and get an exclusive insight into trends, opportunities and challenges in IoT.