Report: Only half of Canadian businesses are getting hooked on IoT, but those that do see an ROI

Businesses that dip a toe into the water of the Internet of Things (IoT) are likely to take a second plunge, according to recent study commissioned by Telus Corp., but there are still some laggards that are afraid to get wet.

The study found that Canadian businesses face a digital divide when it comes to IoT, as half still have no plans to deploy it, while the other half is eager to expand IoT activities based on early success and proven ROI, said Pam Ferguson, Telus’s GM of IoT solution sales and strategic investments. She said the split wasn’t a surprise to her based on what Telus has seen so far with its customers.

The study, conducted by MARU/VR&C in March 2016, surveyed 506 IT decision makers from businesses across Canada and found that 52 per cent of Canadian businesses are considering, planning, piloting or deploying an IoT solution. The majority of organizations – 86 per cent – that have embraced IoT are seeing positive results, while 83 per cent are planning or have already done additional IoT implementations. More than half of these relatively early adopters wish they were further along in their deployments.

Ferguson said the key to early IoT projects is they don’t have to be large and complex in order for companies to see some benefits, especially given that CIOS and IT departments already have a lot of projects competing for their attention. “They don’t need to be massive, daunting deployments.”

She said Telus has focused on educating customers through its IoT marketplace launched in 2014 to demonstrate what others are doing in their industries. “Customers are quite comfortable going into controlled deployments and a proof of concept.”

Ferguson said early adopters in the transportation and retail sectors are typically seeing benefits such as better fuel consumption and worker productively, respectively. “Those things keep coming up.” These straightforward, quick hits of ROI are what makes them eager to do additional IoT projects, she said, and continue along the learning curve.

The company has been providing its Telus Fleet Tracker solution in collaboration with Toronto-based software provider Fleet Complete since 2007, giving customers real-time information such as the location of every vehicle, idling times, vehicle speed, how the vehicles are being operated, and whether a vehicle requires preventative maintenance to avoid costly repairs. More recently, it partnered up with Intact Insurance to develop a fleet-management insurance so existing Fleet Tracker customers could be eligible for a service that provides fleet owners with tools manage commercial vehicles more effectively, while encouraging safer driving that could translate into savings on insurance.

One of the industries that Ferguson hasn’t really seen touch IoT is the manufacturing sector. “A huge opportunity lies here,” she said. “They are trying to understand how to participate with a long list of priorities.”

Ferguson expects further uptick in IoT projects over the next year as some laggard industries come around, and sees the best approach for those interested in getting started is to do controlled deployments that address ROI at a departmental level.

The Telus study found that the biggest barriers to adoption for IT leaders, regardless of development stage, are budget (51 per cent), security (41 per cent), privacy (36 per cent) and demonstrating ROI/building a business case (33 per cent). And while IoT projects do add to the workload of CIOs and IT staff, aspects can be outsourced, said Ferguson, including initial deployment and lifecycle management.

Telus is not the only Canadian telco bullish on IoT. Last month, Rogers Communications Inc.  reorganized its subscription-based IoT networking services to augment them with offerings for the oil and gas and food industries.

In late march, the company joined forces with smart card company Giesecke & Devrient to create an IoT communication system for global companies that includes a SIM card designed for connected devices that can be used in a variety of countries via different carriers. The SIM connects IOT-enabled devices to local carrier networks across the world to make global rollouts easer for companies based in Canada, as each operator has its own pricing for SIM cards and activation fees.

Just over a year ago, IDC Canada predicted that the Canadian IoT addressable market will be worth more than $6.5 billion by 2018.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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