IT working with business units on Internet of Things: Canadian survey

The number of smart connected devices in Canada is poised to balloon from 28 million in 2013 to no less than 114 million in five years, according to a study on Internet of Things (IoT) adoption  by Telus Corp. and market analyst firm IDC Canada. However, the eye opener is that IT and line of business departments appear to have reached a modus vivendi with regards of IoT projects.

“What was interesting is that many businesses said deployment was not as complicated as they thought it would be,” said Tony Olvet, group vice-president of research at IDC Canada. “Departments are also not working in silos on IoT. IT and line of business are collaborating on projects.”

He said ease of deployment can be partly attributed to assistance provided by integrators, 24 per cent of IoT platforms and applications are managed by external providers. The close collaboration between IT and business leaders can be chalked up to a new trend where business departments “increasingly have a role in technology selection.”

“In these decision, line of business tend to lead but what I see is that CIOs are embracing a new model of change,” he said. “We’re seeing that coming together of infrastructural technology expertise of IT and the open minded approach of business.”

As much as 13 per cent of Canadian medium and large sized companies have adopted IoT solutions as of this year, according to the Telus/IDC Internet of Things Study 2014. About 30 per cent of respondents said they planned to adopt IoT solutions over the next 24 months. IoT spending in Canada will jump from $5.6 million in 2013 to $21 billion by 2018.

The survey, conducted from March to April, covered 209 Canadian medium and large sized firms from across the country. One hundred twenty two IT decision-makers and 87 business leaders were queried on their organization’s IoT plans.

“At the end of the day, the study indicates that we are in the cusp of a major growth point,” said Jim Senko, senior vice-president of SMB and emerging markets for Telus. “This growth is due to a confluence of network stability, emergence of new devices and the ease of deployment and ROI (return of investment).”

According to the study most (77 per cent) IoT deployments in Canada are considered tactical or strategic while only 13 per cent are viewed as transformational. The most common IoT solutions being deployed are related to asset tracking and security monitoring.

“Most IoT deployments involved both IT and line of business departments and the majority are considered relatively straightforward projects,” the study said, “Wireless connectivity, cloud computing and big data solutions are the underpinnings of IoT as organizations seek to manage large and variable workloads across a variety of locations and unlock value from growing sources of data.”

Other attributes of Canadian IoT deployments are:

  • The average number of devices deployed per organization in 5,220
  • 54 per cent of projects used both wireless and wire line connections
  • Wireless only solutions were found in 28 per cent of the IoT projects
  • Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity were most common wireless technology
  • Main platform or application deployed internally or on-premise found in 72 per cent of cases
  • Cloud and hosted solutions used in 28 per cent of cases
  • IT and line of business collaborate in 77 per cent of IoT projects

Other types of wireless standards like WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT), 6LoWPAN (IPV6 over low-power wireless personal area network) are used in certain deployment scenarios.

“In particular, MQTT, Zigbee and 6LoWPAN are used when wireless connections are needed for simple, lightweight messaging in low power situations or where network bandwidth is limited,” the report said. “Wireless network heterogeneity will be the norm rather than the exception for the short to medium term.”

Cloud computing is a natural fit for IoT in Canada. The study found that 61 per cent of projects used external cloud solutions.

IoT also means big data, literally. The study found that 74 per cent of businesses are storing internally, data generated from IoT deployments.

“Big data storage can become a constraint, as will access to robust analytic tools without access to high performance computing resources and skills,” the study said.

Telus and IDC Canada suggested that companies eyeing IoT take the following steps:

  • Determine what process can be automated
  • Find out where the most valuable assets reside
  • Ask if connectivity can be extended through the value chain to enable efficiencies
  • Consider what competitors could do if they embraced IoT solutions faster
  • Explore what new businesses can be created through IoT

“It is critical to build on experience,” according to the report. “If you don’t have internal experience, learn from early adopters.”

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Nestor E. Arellano
Nestor E. Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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