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Analysys Mason: the IoT is growing

The week before Christmas might seem an unsuitable time to release a report into the internet of things market. At this time of year, people are thinking less about work and more about the logistics of fitting three roast potatoes into their mouth at once.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Analysys Mason from putting out its rather catchily-named ‘Predictions for IoT: Investments in NB-IoT, LTE-M and new capabilities prepare operators for an active 2018′ document – and it actually makes for some interesting reading.

There has been a lot of IoT activity in 2017, and there’s more to come next year. Operators in 2017 have been adopting new networking technologies, adding capabilities and setting up a broader ecosystem. Still, adoption has been held back; but not by technology issues.

Competing technology standards do exist (notably between NB-IoT, favoured in China, and LTE-M, which is dominant in the USA), but these are not what will delay the IoT. Analysys actually thinks that operators will launch networks using both technologies next year, rather than choosing one.

Rather than standards, the research firm blames awareness of the IoT in the enterprise for its stilted adoption, with almost a third (29 per cent) of SMEs and a fifth of large companies (18 per cent) not having heard of it. Just under a quarter (23 per cent) said that they have ‘no interest’ in using the technology.

SMEs and enterprises view the IoT very differently; awareness, adoption and interest are much higher in large companies. It is likely that this stems from size; large firms have more projects (and resources) than SMEs, and so are more likely to have at least one using the IoT.

Geographically, there are significant differences amongst different areas of the world. The USA leads in IoT adoption, followed by Western Europe (where the difference between SMEs and large enterprises is most stark), which is itself ahead of China. That gap will be closed quickly, though, as interest is rising in the East.

Security as a differentiator

Low IoT awareness means more opportunities for growth, and Analysys predicts that there will be 6.4 billion connections worldwide – using fixed, mobile and low-power wide area networks – by 2025. That means that securing the IoT will become even more important.

IoT projects are made up of multiple ‘moving parts’: devices, platforms, layers and interfaces. Operators already have a strong legacy in network security, but components beyond connectivity need to be addressed with more specialist solutions, often those built in a bespoke manner by partners or internal teams. Making strategic acquisitions to bring security specialists on board could be a way for companies to demonstrate a commitment to data security. Although this is unlikely to help win new business, it can be a key differentiator.

Operators in Europe will also need to be aware of the GDPR, which comes into effect in May next year. IoT firms will be able to use the regulation as an opportunity to help enterprise customers – especially small businesses – ensure that all devices are compliant. Operators with a strong security background like Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom will be especially well placed to take advantage of the opportunity.

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