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IoT in the pandemic: Enabling improvements and innovation

The way people work and live has never changed so suddenly and significantly as it has over the past six months due to COVID-19. At the time, the shift happened so fast, many couldn’t consider in what areas change would come so quickly.

Looking back, it’s no surprise the general answer is technology. Vodafone’s 2020 IoT Spotlight takes a deeper look into the pandemic’s impact on the use of technology and understand how businesses’ views of IoT have changed. The report includes responses from more than 1,600 businesses globally, and explores how they are using IoT now, as well as how it’s helping them get ready for the future.

No success without IoT

The vast majority of businesses don’t believe they could have maintained business continuity during the pandemic without IoT — 84% considered IoT essential, according to Vodafone. In addition, 97% of respondents said IoT is now vital to their success.

As a result, 77% of businesses surveyed have increased the pace of IoT projects during this time, while 72% have launched new projects. In addition, the integration of IoT devices is a higher priority now for 84% of them. Of the businesses that were not as far along in their IoT strategies, 73% indicate the pandemic will accelerate their ongoing adoption plans, according to Vodafone.

This data shows that businesses understand IoT is more than a technology. Rather, it’s a new way of working that enables businesses to respond quicker and more efficiently to unexpected changes in the market and customer demand.

Improvements amid the crisis

IoT helped many businesses not only adapt their models during the pandemic, but also helped make improvements. Nearly all IoT adopters — 95% — surveyed have achieved a return on investment for their deployments. This result comes from 34% reporting an increase in revenue streams, 55% reporting a decrease in operating costs and 47% reporting lowered and fixed costs.

What’s more, 87% of respondents indicate their core business strategy has changed for the better as a result of adopting IoT, and 59% said they now make more informed decisions thanks to IoT-generated data.

Some respondents cite better operational efficiency as a critical benefit, including 49% reporting boosted employee productivity and 59% reporting improved customer experience. And IoT isn’t just having a positive impact on their operations. Many companies say they’ve created new connected products and services, and 84% believe they can do things they couldn’t do before thanks to IoT.

Mature IoT adopters are finding another level of success. Notably, 43% boast improvements in brand differentiation and competitiveness as key results.

What’s next for IoT

With no end to uncertainty in sight, some businesses might be struggling to plan for the future. But embracing IoT can help them prepare. The use of data to draw insight and inform strategy are fundamental attributes of a business that’s future ready. IoT plays an essential role in this digitization process.

The findings of Vodafone’s report back up this idea. IoT supports digital transformation strategies for 88% of respondents. IoT data is seen as an untapped resource by 82% who would like to leverage it better.

That’s because the pandemic is driving the demand for more, current data. Legacy data may become irrelevant in a post-COVID world. New datasets can be rapidly built and updated through IoT for visibility into performance. Understanding this might be why the majority of adopters believe that, without IoT, businesses will fall behind within five years.

The value of IoT has never been clearer. At this critical time, it’s giving businesses an opportunity to re-invent their operations and become more resilient.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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