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Inmarsat backs up IoT push with commercial study

Businesses worldwide will allocate the biggest slice of their IT budget to Internet of Things (IoT) services in the next few years, according to new research published by Inmarsat.

That’s great news for the UK satellite operator, which is pushing its own IoT capabilities pretty hard at the moment. It released the results of the study just days after signing its latest IoT deal, but more on that later.

According to Inmarsat’s report, ‘Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19,’ which is based on a survey of 450 IT executives at companies 250-plus employees across all global regions, IoT will overtake other big tech buzz word categories to command the biggest piece of IT spending in the period through 2024. In that time, businesses across all industry sectors plan to spend an average of $2.8 million on IoT, the report claims.

That means IoT will account for 10% of enterprise IoT budgets, up from 7% in the 2017-2020 period. By comparison, cloud computing will suck up 9% of IT budgets, next-generation security 7.5%, big data analytics 7.3%, robotics 5.3%, machine learning 4.8% and virtual reality 4.3%.

The differences are not huge, particularly when you look at cloud, security and analytics, but these are multi-million-dollar budgets, so a few percentage points here and there make a difference. Inmarsat has perhaps over-egged it a bit, noting that “planned investments in IoT are notably higher than those earmarked for other Industry 4.0 technologies,” but that message suits its agenda quite nicely.

Inmarsat in August presented Elera, its new global narrowband network designed to support IoT and mobility customers. Company CEO Rajeev Suri described the network as being “perfectly suited to the needs of the connected IoT world,” listing global reach, resilience, speed, and smaller and lower-cost terminals amongst its attributes.

Earlier this week Inmarsat announced that Elera will provide the satellite connectivity backbone for Hiber’s low-cost, low-power IoT network, Hiberband. Netherlands-based start-up Hiber launched its first nano satellites three years ago to power Hiberband, which provides IoT services and solutions to industries including transport, logistics, mining and agriculture.

The Inmarsat deal significantly beefs up Hiber’s network. The company noted that it will continue to us its own proprietary protocols that allow for ultra-low power and low-data consumption levels to connect to the Elera network and power its IoT solutions. The deal will also allow it to offer new industrial IoT applications and extend connectivity to areas without reliable cellular or WiFi network availability, it added.

“This strategic partnership with Inmarsat creates the most powerful global network for IoT available and helps Hiber to focus on rural, remote and industrial IoT solutions, which is where the real life-changing innovation will happen,” said Hiber CEO Roel Jansen.

“The partnership also gives Hiber immediate access to a global market, helps us accelerate our time to market, supports new industrial IoT solutions and widens access to cost-effective near real-time two-way communication on proven, reliable technology,” he said. “The Internet of Things is changing everything.”

Inmarsat would doubtless be inclined to agree.

Aside from quantifying enterprise spend on IoT, its research report also looks at the savings businesses are able to make by using the technology. On average, survey respondents reported that IoT projects currently save their organisations 9% of their yearly operating costs, but they expect that to rise to 15% in a year’s time, and again to 22% in three years and 30% in five years.

“The emergence of IoT as an investment priority for businesses, and the increasing level of cost-savings they expect IoT to deliver in the years ahead, demonstrates how well-established a technology IoT has become across multiple industries,” said Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise.

“Despite already seeing rapidly increasing levels of IoT adoption, Covid-19 has emphasised the importance of Industry 4.0 technologies like IoT for business continuity,” he added. “With the world’s production and supply chains becoming increasingly interconnected and digitalised, those companies producing digital twins of their supply chains and sharing data, are the ones reaping the benefits.”

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