The Internet of Things has arrived in the German SME sector and it is constantly evolving. Which application scenarios are already in use or just being introduced? What are the factors for success? What are the recommendations for action? A new study commissioned by Deutsche Telekom tackles all these questions.
New technologies, new possibilities: For the majority of small and medium-sized companies in Germany, the Internet of Things (IoT) is highly relevant, but neither is it new. More and more companies are now in the process of integrating the Internet of Things more thoroughly into their business models. That is the conclusion reached by the market researchers at PAC in their study "The Internet of Things in German SMEs 2019: Importance, fields of application and status of implementation." PAC surveyed 161 companies from the retail, logistics, transport and utilities sectors as well as manufacturing for study, which was commissioned by Deutsche Telekom. According to the survey, almost 60 percent of SMEs already rely on remote monitoring and remote control – in other words, they monitor and control their machines, vehicles and systems remotely using IoT technologies. Market experts call this "IoT 1.0," the first generation of IoT.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES VIA 5G
For some time now, companies have started to initiate further, more complex IoT projects: With NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) and, in the future, LTE-M and 5G, new ways of efficiently transferring data from sensors and applications are becoming available. Networking in the Internet of Things has made many applications possible in the first place, and with cloud computing and the increasing spread of digital solutions, the implementation of an IoT project will also become easier and cheaper for SMEs. The study clearly shows that increasing efficiency is the main reason for most companies to initiate such projects. They analyze specific sensor data in order to save energy, prevent production downtimes, automate processes and optimize devices. They are increasingly developing new digital services on the basis of the collected data such as apps for their customers – their launchpad into "IoT 2.0."
EMPLOYEES AS OBSTACLE TO GROWTH
A shift is emerging when looking at the different sectors: 90 percent of companies from logistics, transport and supply already use IoT solutions, but retail (83 percent) and industry (79 percent) are also catching up. The manufacturing sector has the most companies, 40 percent, that are currently introducing a new IoT project. Small and medium-sized companies see the greatest need for investment in IT security (82 percent), connectivity (71 percent) and new IoT applications (68 percent). Nevertheless, many SMEs across all sectors continue to hesitate when it comes to IoT. The main reason, according to the PAC study, in addition to concerns about IT security or data protection, it is primarily the companies’ own employees. There are often challenges in terms of motivation, required skills and knowledge.
ADDED VALUE THROUGH COMPETENT PARTNERS
Most companies are aware that IoT projects not only require the right employees, but also qualified partners. From IT consulting, security, development and implementation to operation and networking: every second SME plans to look to external experts in the coming months. Because partners that can offer personnel, technology, know-how and solutions from a single source provide the most help when it comes to the implementation of IoT projects.
From October to December 2018, PAC carried out phone interviews in Germany with a total of 161 employees working in IT, sales, production, purchasing, etc. with decision-making authority for IoT projects or other digitization initiatives. The target group was small and medium-sized companies from the manufacturing, retail, logistics, transport and supply sectors.
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Digitization and the Internet of Things are among the favourite topics of Daniel Kunz. He has been with Deutsche Telekom since 2017 and regularly writes about technology trends and many exciting topics, especially for the retail trade and the logistics industry.