Pandemic accelerated the adoption and sophistication of IoT technology

The enterprise is finding its digital capabilities have been put to the test amid the coronavirus crisis, and a new report from Vodafone Business shows IoT's significant impact.

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When it became apparent to Americans that our only recourse in dealing with COVID-19 was to isolate, as well as work and learn remotely, businesses were finding their digital capabilities tested. The response? The Internet of Things (IoT)  is vital to the success of US businesses (92%), according to a new report, 2020 IoT Spotlight from the communications company Vodafone Business.

During the pandemic, the report showed, 84% of IoT-adopter businesses in the US increased the pace of their IoT projects, 76% of US businesses considering IoT agreed COVID-19 accelerated adoption plans, and 79% of US businesses launched new IoT projects as a result of the crisis.

Vodafone queried 1,639 companies to unveil the positive effects that IoT has had on their businesses, and the resilient strategies they're building with tech to survive and thrive.

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Key IoT business benefits

  • Achieve sustainability goals: 84% use IoT to fundamentally improve their environmental sustainability.
  • Improve productivity: 73% of mature IoT adopters have seen a significant return on Investment from IoT: 84% felt IoT was a key factor in maintaining their businesses during the pandemic, and 55% saw operating costs decrease by 21%.
  • Support business continuity: 84% of IoT adopters feel IoT has ensured business continuity.
  • Drive innovation: 95% of respondents saw a positive return on investment, primarily in two areas, improving operational efficiency and creating new and connected products and services.
  • Business success: 87% said IoT is critical for future success, and 49% said it boosted employee productivity.
  • Improve customer experience:  59% said customer experience was improved.
  • Data is the key to future readiness: 80% said IoT has changed the way they approach analytics and the value of data, 87% agree their core-business strategy changed positively as a result of IoT, 84% believed they can now do things they couldn't pre-IoT, and 59% said IoT is essential to support business decisions.
  • Benefits outweigh risks: 73% said they believe organizations that failed to embrace IoT will fall behind competitors within five years, and 43% believe the IoT's business opportunities greatly outweigh the challenges of implementation.

Vodafone's report showed that because IoT continues to generate value and return on investment for the majority of businesses surveyed during the pandemic, IoT adoption has continued to grow.

A majority of IoT adopters (84%) said IoT ensured business continuity and maintained operations. For businesses which paused IoT projects because of local lockdowns and downturns in their sector, 81% said they are now prioritizing IoT higher than they did previously.

SEE: 5 Internet of Things (IoT) innovations (free Pdf) (TechRepublic)

Future-forward technology

As adoption of IoT increases, it changes the way businesses operate, how they invest, and how competitive they are, with 63% of businesses reporting IoT is "completely disrupting their industry," and as the business proceeds with an eye to digital readiness, they see IoT as an essential future component.

Eighty-four percent of businesses said IoT helps them meet their company's sustainability goals, as it has the potential to be life-changing and improve business, and as it enables new, more sustainable services like electric car sharing to improve energy efficiency, from remote healthcare to ensuring the operation of mission-critical services. Businesses simply see immediate business and societal benefits from IoT, and how it will power innovative, new connected services. 

SEE: The Internet of Wild Things: Technology and the battle against biodiversity loss and climate change (TechRepublic)

Vodafone found that businesses have changed their approach to IoT, as attitudes within the enterprise are changing as the benefits of it are revealed, and 73% of mature adopters say IoT brought them a significant return on investment.

 "IoT has grown up," said Erik Brenneis, Internet of Things director at Vodafone Business. "It's no longer just about increasing return on investment or providing cost savings to businesses: It's changing the way they think and operate. And it's giving them an opportunity to re-design their operations and future-proof their business model. This research proves IoT is an essential technology for businesses that want to be resilient, more flexible and quicker to adapt and react to change."

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By N.F. Mendoza

N.F. Mendoza is a writer at TechRepublic and based in Los Angeles. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema Critical Studies and a Master's of Professional Writing, both from USC. Nadine has more than 20 years experience as a journalist coveri...