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MEF Programme Director Nassia Skoulikariti speaks to MEF Advisor Andrew Parkin-White about best practices when it comes to IoT connectivity.

By way of context, MEF has three pieces of work which are either complete or underway. Last year we did a survey into IoT drivers, challenges priorities, technology choices and supplier references, and we spoke to 450 enterprises globally that were already using IoT.

This year, we have recently completed the field work for another survey, but this time, we’re looking at enterprises that are planning to use IoT in the next six to 24 months in Brazil, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Spain, UK, and the USA.

In terms of the sectors, we examined what was happening in automotive, automotive manufacturing systems, transportation, storage and logistics, utilities and energy, healthcare, manufacturing and industrial retail and wholesale agriculture and smart cities and intelligent buildings was added this year.

MEF is also developing another piece of work, which we are calling Best Practices in IoT connectivity and we have spoken to IoT CSPs from across the globe, to find out how they’re responding to some of the connectivity issues that we covered in our surveys

What we found in our 2021 survey is for enterprises, 83% of them said that using technology for business advantage was the most important driver. We also saw which technologies enterprises are using and planning to use and there is an apparent strong base of usage of legacy 2G and 3G technologies at present. 4G is growing in importance and organisations are highly interested in 5G but only 3% are actually using 5G at present.

The most trusted partner for existing IoT users is the MNO, but what we found is that connectivity alone is not enough – support and technical innovation are very important. Supplies should be able to integrate all elements of a solution, handle the complete project from start to finish and provide ongoing support.

Cost is a much lower consideration and boils down to enterprises thinking about the business case investment case, the return on investment, rather than the cost. We see these sorts of headline figures in the marketplace of 10 years connectivity for $1 and the race to the bottom as far as cost is concerned. Only part of the market is really interested in that and the large part of the market sees that IoT is critical to their business and competitivity. This means that they are willing to invest and in these sorts of projects.

If we look at enterprises who are planning to launch IoT applications, we see a different set of drivers emerging. The most important consideration, by far is cost saving. In terms of spend on connectivity, for every dollar spent, enterprises are planning to spend around 10 to 15% of connectivity.

The second highest was digital transformation. When we asked enterprises about their key challenges with IoT, 73% cite the impact on their processes an issue along with the integration of multiple technologies and impact on legacy systems. These three issues represent a challenge and opportunity for suppliers, and the strong impact this has on legacy systems. They were less interested in security than existing users – maybe because their applications are not live – and more interested in cloud integration and data processing at the edge.

Enterprises see eSim as a critical tool and it is very much on their critical path as a technology moving forward. The ability to have solutions work across multiple technologies is also important and enterprises need a clear roadmap for their choices and for future proofing.”

MEF also has a project underway looking at best practices in IoT connectivity and we have spoken to eight leading IoT CSPs and asked them about their views on some of the key connectivity elements that we asked enterprises about in the survey. So first of all, the most important criteria for enterprises is suppliers offering a fully managed solution and this came out as 8.6/10.

The second highest score is for suppliers being able to onboard devices efficiently and integrate them into the into the IoT applications that scored 8.4 for enterprises and 8.5 for CSPs.  Having a consistent quality of service sees the largest divergence between what CSP think and enterprise needs and what the enterprise believes at 9.4 compared to 5.6.

Enterprises see eSim as a critical tool and it is very much on their critical path as a technology moving forward. The ability to have solutions work across multiple technologies is also important and enterprises need a clear roadmap for their choices and for future proofing.

Of course, it is the detail that is important when we explore the numbers by different geographies, sectors and enterprise sizes.

The key word that came up time and time again was flexibility and so suppliers need to be flexible in dealing with evolving enterprise needs. And this service wraparound is important so offering security analytics cloud connectivity, billing and management platforms performance reporting are important along with a cost-effective solution. Finally, educating the enterprise is important – they don’t know yet what they don’t know and supplier expertise can be applied here.

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