Enterprises across the globe are showing renewed interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and they are looking to service providers to help manage and secure their installations, according to a report published by Information Services Group (ISG).
The report finds a growing interest in using the IoT in several ways, such as improving the efficiency of the supply chain, running shop floor equipment, and powering autonomous vehicles.
“There is a clear resurgence of interest from enterprises around the world in the IoT,” said Gaurav Gupta, partner and global leader, ISG Digital Engineering. “Most large enterprises, having chosen their IoT platforms by now, are interested in scaling their IoT initiatives globally.”
While the pandemic slowed overall investment in the IoT in 2020, the manufacturing industry, for one, increased its spending on IoT outsourcing contracts, the report says, in line with strong growth in smart manufacturing initiatives before the pandemic.
Gupta noted that, within the realm of smart manufacturing, the pandemic impacted hardware and other capex-related IoT investments, but “intelligent op-ex investments with a clear ROI, such as asset management and predictive maintenance, are gaining steam.”
Beyond manufacturing, spending on IoT outsourcing contracts began to rebound across more industries in the fourth quarter of 2020, the report notes.
Rolling out IoT creating security concerns
In addition to pandemic-related impacts, many companies rolling out the IoT are concerned about cybersecurity, and they’re turning to service providers to help them protect the data flowing over IoT systems, the report says.
IoT service providers are building security services into their consulting and managed services engagements, especially those focused on IT and operational technology (OT) convergence, the report adds. Many security services cover the entire IoT ecosystem, from the edge to the cloud to on-premises systems.
Convergence of IT and OT systems is another major challenge for enterprises deploying IoT systems, the report says. The use of legacy systems in both worlds can slow down integration and mobility. Service providers are combining their industry expertise and IT proficiencies to develop converged systems.
Service providers are also helping enterprises deploy artificial intelligence in IoT systems, including on the edge, the report adds. AI can help IoT systems better process large volumes of data, and service providers often offer customized AIOps systems for specialized customer needs.
The report sees a growing interest in 5G networking technologies as a way to connect IoT networks, but it notes spectrum availability is inconsistent across the globe. In some cases, mobile network operators may need to shut down older networks to make way for 5G.
Enterprise clients, especially those with deployed IoT fleets and devices, will need to manage the selection of replacement technologies when mobile operators shutter older services, the report recommends. Shuttering events will happen on a per-country, per-operator basis, which makes them difficult to manage.