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IoT sees significant investment, despite economic uncertainty

Latest research from Gartner reveals that nearly half of organisations (47%) will increase investments in internet of things (IoT) technologies, despite the impact of COVID-19 on revenue and budgets.

Following the COVID-19 lockdowns, the survey found that 35% of organisations reduced their investments in IoT, however, a larger number of organisations are planning to invest more in IoT implementations to reduce costs.

According to Gartner, one reason behind the increase is that while companies have a limited history with IoT, IoT implementers produce a predictable ROI within a specified timeframe.

Gartner research vice president Benoit Lheureux says, “They use key performance indicators (KPIs) to track their business outcomes and for most of them they also specify a time frame for financial payback of their IoT investments, which is on the average three years.”

In addition, as IoT investments are relatively new, most companies have plenty of 'low hanging fruit' cost-saving opportunities to pursue.

This can include predictive-maintenance on commercial and industrial assets such as elevators or turbines, and optimisation of processes such as increasing manufacturing yield, Gartner states.

As a result of COVID-19, 31% of survey respondents said that they use digital twins to improve their employee or customer safety, such as the use of remote asset monitoring to reduce the frequency of in-person monitoring, for instance with hospital patients and mining operations.

Furthermore, the survey showed that 27% of companies plan to use digital twins as autonomous equipment, robots or vehicles.

Lheureux says, “Digital twins can help companies recognise equipment failures before they stall production, allowing repairs to be made early or at less cost.

"Or a company can use digital twins to automatically schedule the repair of multiple pieces of equipment in a manner that minimises impact to operations.”

Gartner expects that by 2023, one-third of mid-to-large-size companies that implemented IoT will have implemented at least one digital twin associated with a COVID-19-motivated use case.

The enforcement of safety measures has also fueled the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the enterprise, according to the analysts.

Surveyed organisations said they have applied AI techniques in a pragmatic manner. 25% of organisations are favouring automation (through remote access and zero-touch management), while 23% are choosing procedure compliance (safe automation measures) in order to reduce COVID-19 safety concerns.

For example, organisations can monitor work areas using AI-enabled analysis of live video feeds to help enforce safe social distancing compliance in high-traffic areas such as restaurants and manufacturing lines.

Finally, Gartner expects that by 2023, one-third of companies that have implemented IoT will also have implemented AI in conjunction with at least one IoT project.