A new research report from Inmarsat attempts to peer into the future of IoT use within enterprises. Specifically, the Inmarsat Research Programme study has focused on four vertical industries – agritech, energy production, transportation and mining – which are the sectors Inmarsat believes to be the foundation to security and stability in the world. Why? Because as the global population surges to 10 billion by 2050, we will need new production methods if we are going to feed everyone; mass urbanisation will challenge how we connect our cities and enable transportation; the demand for energy will only increase; and without the raw materials from mining, our ability to build the necessary infrastructure will be severely restricted.
Inmarsat’s research confirmed that IoT is currently the most prominent technology in the digital transformation of industry. It found that 82 per cent of respondents will have adopted some form of IoT within the next two years. The reason appears to be that without IoT and its sensors and data, many other technology innovations – such as machine learning, robotics, automation, 3D printing, AI and augmented reality – will not be able to deliver significant value.
Despite IoT being a foundational technology, its deployment is not without significant challenges for enterprises. Inmarsat identifies three main challenges: data collection, connectivity and skills.
“… many businesses currently find themselves without the skilled staff required for this transformation and unable to take advantage of the potential that IoT solutions offer.” – Paul Gudonis, President of the Inmarsat Enterprise Business Unit
Three quarters of respondents said that they needed to improve their processes to protect against malicious attacks, and just over half reported the need to reduce the risks of accidental misuse by employees. In terms of getting the data to and from remote sensors (a common scenario across all four industry sectors), respondents said they face a challenge in getting the level of reliable connectivity that they require, even in city areas.
The third big challenge concerns global shortages of skills. 60 per cent of respondents reported that they required additional staff experienced in cybersecurity to handle the vast quantities of data that IoT solutions generate; 46 per cent identified a deficit of staff with experience in analytics and data science; and 48 per cent lacked the technical support skills needed to make their IoT projects successful.
Additionally, 72 per cent of respondents identified a shortage of staff with management-level experience of IoT deployments, and 80 per cent lacked skills in the hands-on delivery of IoT solutions, to ensure that the solutions work as intended.
“There is a clear recognition by organisations from all industries that IoT will play a fundamental role in their digital transformation and in their ability to achieve competitive advantage,” said Paul Gudonis, President of the Inmarsat Enterprise Business Unit. “But many businesses currently find themselves without the skilled staff required for this transformation and unable to take advantage of the potential that IoT solutions offer. Unless this skills deficit is properly addressed, there’s a risk that IoT projects will fail and that businesses will open themselves up to new security threats, putting an unwelcome brake on innovation.”
Inmarsat says that the result of these challenges is that organisations are working more collaboratively than ever, using partners in multiple ways to plug the gaps to deliver IoT successfully. Innovative companies with sector-specific knowledge need to draw in a network of specialist organisations and work with their customers to ignite innovative new ways of doing things better. Reliable network infrastructure providers that can operate anywhere in the world need to work closely with end-user businesses to make sure they understand their operational needs.
“Enterprises must move quickly to upskill their existing staff and fill the gaps in their internal skillsets with new hires,” added Gudonis. “But longer term, the focus needs to be on establishing strategic partnerships with IoT specialists. With economies of scale on their side, specialist partners can help businesses overcome their skills bottlenecks and make their IoT deployments successful.”
The original version of this article first appeared in Telecom TV.
Telecom TV delivers daily insight on the converging worlds of telecoms, media and entertainment. Views expressed in this article from Telecom TV do not necessarily reflect those of ITU.