MWC Session Recap: The State of IoT

The COVID-19 pandemic halted more than travel—it slowed supply chains and caused manufacturing shutdowns around the world. This market disruption caused Internet of Things (IoT) device additions to take a hit in 2020—but they seem poised for a rebound in 2021 and beyond.

At MWC Barcelona, experts in IoT and security discussed some of the major trends in connected devices, and the impact those trends will have on businesses.

By the Numbers

According to Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Analyst of IoT and Enterprise at GSMA, IoT is now largely being deployed as an integral part of digital transformation in enterprise.

Previously, IoT was thought of as a way to cut costs. That mentality has fundamentally changed, as 52 percent of enterprises are utilizing IoT as a vehicle to generate new revenue.

“IoT is no longer about proof of concept, but proof of value,” said Kechiche.

In the recent GSMA Intelligence Enterprise in Focus Survey, 63 percent of enterprises reported that their IoT rollouts were part of a transformation agenda, as opposed to a standalone initiative.

Preparation is a Necessity—As Is Employee Buy-In

Andres Escribano, Director of New IoT Connectivity Business with Telefónica, noted that organizations with siloed IoT integrations and a lack of an end-to-end view struggled during the pandemic.

However, enterprises that were further along on their digital transformation journey fared far better than their less prepared counterparts.

Part of any enterprise’s success on their digital journey is getting employee buy-in.

“Usually, when you introduce new technologies like robotics and automation, [the employees] believe their jobs are at risk,” said Escribano.

Per Escribano, to avoid employee resistance on the journey, the best way to do so is to include employees throughout the process.

Security is Key

As IoT becomes more ubiquitous, companies will have more data to handle than ever, and must ensure it stays secure at all points in the data cycle. Without security, bad actors can exploit vulnerabilities in any business.

“Every sector has been impacted [by COVID-19],” said Trend Micro’s Chief Cybersecurity Officer Ed Cabrera. “Arguably, the biggest challenge is cybercriminals and bad actors who have taken huge opportunities to take advantage.”

With ransomware use also on the rise, and operators, governments and enterprises are equally at risk. Cabrera noted that in order to combat fraud, it’s important to have security “baked into the proof of concept.”

Now is an ideal time for organizations to review their current security approach and ensure that security is embedded into overreaching strategies for IoT.

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