The changing IoT landscape - Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay Standfirst: Earlier this year, global member-based association, Wi-SUN Alliance published its latest IoT study, The Journey to IoT Maturity, a follow up to its first report five years ago analysing the state of the Internet of Things (IoT). Phil Beecher, CEO and President, Wi-SUN Alliance discusses what has changed since 2017. 

Five years ago, we published our first ‘state of the nation’ type report, looking at the state of the Internet of Things (IoT) market. This year, we revisited this study with a survey of 300 UK and US IT decision makers who are also IoT adopters (smart cities, smart utilities and industrial IoT). We sought to understand whether (and how) perspectives, attitudes and adoption patterns have changed.

We were not surprised to see that IoT is now a top priority among those adopting or planning to adopt IoT technologies and applications. It has risen further up the priority list for many organisations. More than nine in 10 (92%) say they must invest in IoT technologies over the next 12 months.

When examining the drivers for this, we can see that it is an opportunity for many to gain

  • a competitive advantage (29%)
  • reduce operational costs (27%)
  • create business efficiencies (25%)

When comparing the two studies from 2017 and 2022, there’s a noticeable increase in the number of respondents not just thinking about the technology but also planning to roll out IoT initiatives.

If we look at the most likely use cases, more respondents are likely or will deploy the following solutions over the next 12-18 months:

  • IoT technology for security and surveillance 87%, up from 77% in 2017
  • IoT for distribution automation, 82%, up from 74% in 2017
  • Advanced meter infrastructure, 80% up from 68% in 2017

The potential for traffic management and parking is also on the rise, with

  • Smart parking rose to 77% from 57% in 2017
  • Traffic lights and controls up to 76%, from 58% in 2017
  • Electric vehicle charging rose to 79% from 66% in 2017

Growing IoT ambitions still have challenges

Many IoT projects were in their infancy just five years ago. The market has now matured. Organisations have become more ambitious and more open to the idea of planning and deploying services and applications. Such project deployments, however, can remain challenging.

Those respondents saying they have managed to implement an IoT strategy fully has fallen from 55% in 2017 to 47% this year. There is a corresponding rise in those who took part in our survey admitting it is ‘extremely difficult’ to implement IoT – up from 14% in 2017 to 17% today.

This may be down to recent advancements in IoT technologies, adding complexity and broadening the scope to expand such strategies. It may also be down to a growing understanding of what a ‘fully implemented strategy’ is and what it entails.

Security remains a challenge for many organisations. Around a quarter (24%) of respondents point to security as one of the top three barriers to IoT adoption, but this is down from over half (58%) in our study five years ago. Security and safety do, however, remain the most common technical challenges among survey respondents. There are also growing concerns over the complexity of IT infrastructure (34% up from 24% in 2017) and the need to see a proven return on investment (27% up from 17% in 2017).

While some senior stakeholders clearly understand the potential of IoT technologies for business, others are not yet seeing it. Surprisingly, nearly a quarter (23%) of leaders are reluctant to commit to IoT solutions just yet, up from 19% five years ago.

Open standards, connectivity, and network topologies

It’s important to see that IoT adopters are embracing the role of industry-wide open standards for deployments, with many seeing them as crucial, particularly for smart cities. In our latest study, 86%, of respondents see these as either very important or crucial, up from 78% in 2017. The role of open standards should not be underestimated. They are making it easier to integrate new IoT devices, products, and software with existing infrastructure. Using compatible networks can also lower the cost of further deployments.

Another interesting development is that organisations are also thinking more about keeping their connectivity options open by supporting flexible network topologies. Network topology is an important consideration for respondents, with 40% looking at it when evaluating IoT solutions.

Five years ago, just over half (58%) preferred a hybrid network topology, supporting both star and mesh configurations. In our latest study, this has risen to 68%, reflecting a growing move towards mesh-based networking, which lost no support among those wanting to use it exclusively.

IoT is maturing, but not mature

The journey to IoT is maturing, with organisations becoming more ambitious in their thinking and approach. IoT is now a bigger priority than ever across all the sectors we surveyed, from energy and utilities to government. The scale of what is being planned over the next few years is very encouraging.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in helping develop smart cities, smart utilities and other industrial applications and services. What is clear is that this journey isn’t over, and there is still some way to go to true IoT maturity. Obstacles remain, and organisations must work to overcome them.

To see the full Wi-SUN Alliance report.

Wi-SUN AllianceWi-SUN Alliance is a global non-profit member-based association made up of industry leading companies. Its mission is to drive the global proliferation of interoperable wireless solutions for use in smart cities, smart grids and other Internet of Things (IoT) applications using open global standards from organizations, such as IEEE, IETF, TIA, TTC and ETSI. With 300 members worldwide, membership of the Wi-SUN Alliance is open to all industry stakeholders and includes silicon vendors, product vendors, services providers, utilities, universities, enterprises and municipalities and local government organisations. For more information, visit:


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