The Business of IoT

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IoT Business and Industry

Business and industry are being transformed, as IoT takes shape. In this new environment, IoT heralds a new era of intelligent connections every enterprise can embrace. The business of IoT is the creation of a new connected ecosystem every company can use to innovate.

The new age of IoT business has been a long time coming. 2020 is set to become the year when IoT enters the stage and begins to change how businesses and industry operates. Now that 5G has already started to roll out across the UK, the last component of the essential foundations IoT needs to deliver transformative services has arrived. With fast low latency communications, the last barrier to widespread IoT deployments has been removed.

IoT in its business and industry guise is set to deliver what some are calling a revolution. With billions of smart devices entering the IoT ecosystem, this intelligent environment can be used by business and industry to innovate.

Perhaps the most conspicuous application of IoT to date is the continued roll-out of smart meters by the UK’s energy companies. This growing ecosystem of devices will soon be joined by other smart services linked to domestic appliances in the home, massive sensor networks in our cities and, intelligent factories as Industry 4.0 (i4.0) become a tangible reality.

As IoT matures and expands, it will touch healthcare, industry, retail, transportation, energy, financial services, agriculture and business processes.

According to Microsoft, “IoT is transforming businesses in every industry and is powering breakthrough innovations,” said Sam George, Head of Azure IoT. “Our research shows that unlocking IoT’s full potential requires the industry to address key challenges like the skills shortage, security concerns and solution complexity. Microsoft is leading the way on simplifying and securing IoT so that every business on the planet can benefit.”

Microsoft’s findings offer a snapshot of current thinking behind business and industry’s use of IoT:

  • 85% of respondents are in IoT adoption, and three-fourths of these have IoT projects in planning.
    Among IoT adopters, 88% believe IoT is critical to business success.
  • IoT adopters believe they will see a 30% ROI, inclusive of cost savings and efficiencies, two years from now.
  • Nearly all IoT adopters — 97% — have security concerns when implementing IoT, but this is not hindering adoption.
  • 38% of IoT adopters cite complexity and technical challenges to using IoT as a barrier to their IoT adoption.
  • Lack of talent and training present challenges for half of IoT adopters, and 47% say there are not enough available skilled workers.
  • Respondents believe critical technology drivers for IoT success in the next two years are AI, edge computing and 5G.
  • Nearly one-third of projects (30%) fail in the proof-of-concept stage, often because the implementation is expensive or bottom-line benefits are unclear.

The more extensive business and industry sectors are gearing up to implement IoT across their enterprises. This year’s Internet of Things Barometer from Vodafone confirms this with Over a third (34%) of companies are now using IoT, up from 29% in the previous IoT Barometer. Regionally, the Americas saw the most significant increase — rising from 27% to 40%. The industries that saw the greatest increase were transport and logistics (27% to 42%) and manufacturing and industrials (30% to 39%).

IoT business

Businesses see IoT as a means to radically develop their enterprises. Hardware developers, in particular, are embracing IoT. Adding a layer of intelligence to their devices enables them to offer new innovative services to their customers. Pre-emptive servicing, status monitoring and user tracking, can all be added to provide richer experiences for their customers.

Security is often mentioned by the C-suite as continuing pressure and challenges when implementing IoT technologies is discussed. Indeed, with the arrival of 5G and the expansion of the threat landscape to infinitely more endpoints, security has quickly moved to the top of the IoT agenda.

Speaking to Silicon, Anne Sheehan, Director, Vodafone Business UK said: “IoT is having a huge impact on all industries, from automotive to utilities. Cost savings, streamlining processes and improving data management are all benefits that IoT brings to businesses and industries. Out of all areas, the medical field is showing a particularly strong appetite for smart devices and IoT. Connected technologies can provide doctors and carers with an accurate measure of whether patients are following their treatment.”

Sheehan continued: “IoT also provides tools that help the patient their own health by connecting devices to hosting and analytics. But the advantages of IoT in the healthcare industry don’t stop here: remote surgery and 5G connected ambulances will improve access to the best medical care help to make expertise more widely available. The transformation of healthcare by IoT is evidence of the positive benefits that this technology can have on not only business but also our society.”

Businesses and especially industry have been waiting for 5G. The fast network platform is a core enabler to realise the full potential and promise of IoT in an enterprise environment. Ericsson put it best in their report: “Once a 5G network is established, a truly automated factory can be realised. An array of connected devices such as machines, sensors, materials and robots can be managed through one standardised network, with the correct latency and bandwidth allocated as necessary. This is where the greatest opportunity lies for operators.”

The tide of IoT development is turning. The convergence of critical technologies is now taking place. The intelligent environments IoT will deliver offers businesses in all sectors new opportunities. These opportunities can radically alter business processes. When an ecosystem o connected smart devices exists, just like the internet before it, the IoT environment offers a massively flexible platform for businesses to innovate.

Making connections

The key to successfully using IoT across business and industry is understanding your motivations. Merely generating more data from IoT devices isn’t enough. This information treasure trove has to have context. Data is useful when driving a well-defined business strategy. Businesses in the i4.0 space understand this. They are auditing their processes to identify where IoT can deliver practical value.

As KMPG succinctly put it: “Exactly what, then, does your organisation need to look like tomorrow to be competitive or disruptive? Start with value objectives and performance drivers. And in mapping out a smart i4.0 journey, look beyond the factory floor. The potential for an exciting new business model promising unprecedented value awaits.”

Vodafone Business UK’s Anne Sheehan advised Silicon: “Business leaders need a clear strategy that outlines what they plan to achieve and how it will benefit their business goals. Our research found that driving operational efficiency, improving productivity, creating new revenue streams and providing costs savings are the main reasons business leaders deploy IoT.

“For businesses of all sizes, connecting a company’s people, places and things, allows for a fundamental rethinking of existing business practices, unlocks new revenue streams, and enables greater efficiencies. If a business wants to transform itself to compete in a digital world, then it simply must embrace IoT.”

Business and industry are poised to accelerate their use of IoT in all its forms. Security concerns will need to be addressed to ensure all devices that enter the IoT ecosystem have adequate protection. Interoperability will also be critical. For business owners, they are on the cusp of what could be an IoT revolution.

Silicon in Focus

Kevin Gillick, Executive Director of GlobalPlatform
Kevin Gillick, Executive Director of GlobalPlatform

Kevin Gillick, Executive Director of GlobalPlatform.

Mr. Gillick is responsible for driving awareness and accelerating the adoption of the GlobalPlatform Specifications within worldwide markets. He coordinates and manages the organisation’s strategic planning and oversees all marketing and business development initiatives within crucial vertical market sectors. He works closely with GlobalPlatform’s Technical Director, all three of the organisation’s technical committees – Secure Element (SE), Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) and Trusted Platform Services (TPS) – and the GlobalPlatform Task Forces. Mr. Gillick is directly responsible to the Board of Directors and the GlobalPlatform membership.

Across industry and business, where are the most transformative IoT technologies being developed?

Transformative IoT technologies are driving rapid change across all areas of industry and business. The technology is here, and so the narrative has moved on from connect to protect. Companies are now focused on how to bring together the right configuration of security to protect assets, connectivity, data and privacy.

Companies and entities should not need to become cybersecurity experts to reap the benefits of IoT. This is why GlobalPlatform brings the IoT ecosystem together to collaborate. Our freely available security specifications and frameworks enable digital device makers and service providers to build securely without starting from scratch, protecting devices, data and brands.

What is your core advice to businesses that want to harness what IoT has to offer them?

We need to get serious about security. Today’s IoT devices do more than provide information at your fingertips – they gather and analyse sensitive data and can even impact the physical world. But they are also potential network entry points for hackers and fraudsters, can be used to launch DDoS attacks, to mine end-user data or even exploited to share their source code and other intellectual property. All of these scenarios will have a significant reputational and financial impact for enterprises.

Effective risk management across the full lifecycle of IoT devices and services is the key to success. This starts with ensuring devices used by your business have been built using secure by design methodologies. These devices should be manageable throughout their life to enable updates and maintenance of services as requirements and threats evolve.

Implementations requiring the highest levels of assurance may require security certifications in line with relevant standards, whereas others may not. It’s important to remember that the level of security of each implementation will depend on your risk analysis; there is no one size fits all. But businesses are not alone in this fight, and much work has already been done to help them implement trust in a cost-effective and scalable way.

How are CTOs and CIOs approaching their IoT strategy?

IoT will impact all enterprises. Employees will soon use IoT devices for their work if they are not already. Enterprises will be directly affected if these IoT devices are not working in the right way, or if the data flow generated from the IoT devices is not well protected.

That’s why it’s so important that an IoT strategy is developed in collaboration with all departments (IT, Risk, Operations) so that objectives are clearly defined ensuring that the right approaches and solutions to meet them are adopted.

When it comes to implementing IoT and choosing solutions, enterprises should consider:

  • Security by design
    Have the solutions been built on a trusted foundation? Do they embed secure components and utilise APIs built using industry-wide interoperable security standards? Additionally, has the component or product passed security certification? If you are not selecting products that are certified, then you are accepting certain levels of risk.
  • Privacy by design
    At all levels, enterprises should only keep the data that is needed. This will reduce data flow through the business and minimise databases that can be targeted. A process to notify customers of any breach should also be in place.
  • Security governance
    In the knowledge that multiple providers will create IoT devices, enterprises need a process to be sure that updates will be received and deployed within their environment to ensure effective lifecycle management and security patching.

For business and industry, what does their IoT future look like?

As more smart devices are introduced into our cities, businesses and homes, traditional verticals (payments, automotive, etc.) will converge. We’re witnessing this already in the case of payments and retail – smart fridges that can order and pay for your shopping etc. Embedding connectivity can turn any object into an IoT device – it’s no longer about the number of things but the number of types of things.

IoT will play a huge role in the industry, particularly manufacturing. Industry 4.0 presents a range of opportunities for businesses – greater harmonisation between machinery, computers and automation. We’ve had smartphones, smart motorways; now it’s the turn of smart factories!

Connecting and automating processes across an organisation’s entire value chain can be problematic, however. Industry 4.0 calls for higher levels of security, since bringing previously closed networks online through IoT gateways creates new potential points of entry for attackers. Also, if security is not foundational, seemingly innocuous devices within manufacturing facilities – like lighting, sensors and cameras – can become platforms for attacks.

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