Internet of Things (IoT) has moved quickly from buzzword to reality, with a flood of projects seeking to use the technology to improve operations across a variety of fields.

By Kathy Gibson

“IoT is an incredibly broad and complex ecosystem,” Kieran Frost, research manager at International Data Corporation (IDC) tells delegates to the IoT Industry Council’s Connected Things Forum. “This makes analysis really hard, because it is about so many things working in tandem.”

IDC breaks down IoT as device/endpoints, the edge, the core, analytics, and industry trends.

The organisation believes we have moved beyond the machine-to-machine age to the IoT landscape of today where there is a growing ecosystem of devices; an increasing number of sensors an some endpoint processing.

In the future, standards will become rationalised, there will be management standardisation and more integration.

On the edge, we are seeing a growing interest in enabling processing/compute at the edge. It is today a supply-based phenomenon, but edge-based compute capabilities are emerging.

Going forward, more than 50% of processing will happen at the edge, with solutions enabled at the microprocessor.

At the core, cloud is the critical enabler of the most successful IoT deployments and public cloud vendors are beginning to own the IoT middleware landscape.

In the future, the core will be used for heavy compute analytics. The public cloud winners are likely to be players like Microsoft and AWS, although some industries are still reticent about using public cloud.

In terms of analytics, these used to be descriptive, are now predictive and will soon become prescriptive, Frost says.

“Analytics is really where IoT will succeed or fail.”

Manufacturing, utilities and transportation are the traditional industries using IoT. Currently, adoption is also happening in buildings and the consumer space. Going forward, we can expect to see cross industry data sharing and exchanges for use in deployments like smart cities.

Spending in the South African market will be about $3,02-billion, Frost says. This will be split between connectivity (14%), hardware (31%), services (35%) and software (20%)

The customer value discussion will shift towards software platforms, applications and analytics driven in part by low access to skills

However the role of access, in terms of network and connectivity, cannot be underestimated. Licences and unlicensed LP-WAN technologies will co-exist

Processing at the edge will grow and we will see the emergence of the intelligence edge with gateways aggregating and analysing edge data, with artificial intelligence (AI) also on the edge.

Security concerns have to be top of mind, Frost says. Threat actors will target IoT networks, and this will hamper adoption in the medium-term.

Manufacturing currently makes up 21,8% of the IoT market, with deployments in manufacturing operation, including predictive maintenance, and production asset management.

“We are starting to see some interesting adoptions in the South African context,” Frost says.

Transportation accounts for 20% of the market, with fleet management and freight monitoring the main implementations.

Consumers account for 14,4% of the market, as smart homes and connected vehicles take off.

Government uses IoT for intelligent transportation and public safety, accounting for 12,5% of the market.

Other industries are a big part of the market, at 29,9%, including projects like agricultural animal tagging and smart grid deployments.

Frost cautions that some of the projects we see happening overseas cannot be simply imported into the local market. Animal tagging is a case in point, he says, where a home-grown solution could be more relevant and successful, appealing to the local market in a palatable way.

Currently, 75% of CIOs have or plan IoT implementations. Some of these (15%) are underway now, with 39% planned for 2019, and 17% planned for 2020.

The reasons that South African companies are looking to IoT include:

* Improve quality of product or time to market – 63%

* Improve customer service/data due to tracking of behaviours or purchases – 63%

* Improve customer experience – 57%

* Reduce maintenance costs – 55%

* Faster or better decision making – 43%

Inhibiting factors that may stifle the deployment of IoT include:

* An insufficient understanding of the benefits of IoT – 35%

* Unclear or unproven ROI – 33%

* Lack of budget – 31%

* Does not fit in the company’s strategy – 29%

* Security and privacy concerns – 24%

Globally, IDC expects that 80-billion devices will be online by 2025, creating 180 zettabytes of data and 250 000 unique IoT apps or services by 2020.

By 2020, 70% of organisations will leverage commercial IoT platforms to develop and deploy applications, and more than 50% will have multi-vendor IoT platform environment.

By 2022, 50% of the initial analysis of IoT data will occur at the edge.


The IoT Industry Council of South Africa

The IoT Industry Council of South Africa aims to assemble a group of action-orientated people comprising industry, government, technology specialists and more, to drive the IoT agenda in South Africa.

Patrick Shields, chief technology officer at Software AG, believes it’s important to tackle the issues and stoke thinking, with an emphasis on networking.

Roger Hislop, executive head: IoT at Internet Solutions and chairman of the IoT Industry Council (IoTIC), encourages IoT practitioners to join the IoT Industry Council.

“We are building repository of technical information, of business cases and business models to accelerate the adoption of IoT,” he says. “Because IoT is easier than it looks in some respects; but it is also harder than it looks.”