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Security is top IOT priority

Security is the top use case for the Internet of things (IOT), for businesses in the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

This is according to a survey by Current Analysis, which found security systems dominate the top five IOT use cases − in use or under evaluation − for businesses in the MEA region.

Current Analysis director Rena Bhattacharyya told ITWeb this came as no surprise, as security was listed as the top use case for companies around the globe.

"Security concerns are top of mind for many organisations. The survey findings point out businesses are eager to use new technologies, such as IOT, to help them address this concern."

Over 1 000 enterprises, both IT and line of business, were surveyed across the globe, including in Africa. This encompassed companies already using IOT or planning to, and those that have rejected the idea.

Bhattacharyya says in future, we can expect to see vendors instrumenting physical assets such as video surveillance cameras, motion sensors, firewalls and other practical security devices with the aim of applying advanced analytics capabilities, such as facial recognition and predictive analytics, to automate and streamline security responses.

The second most important use case for IOT in MEA was for tracking employees, followed by remote monitoring and control.

Storage is the top area of IOT investment for MEA companies, whereas global peers invest in cloud services.

Storage is the top area of IOT investment for MEA companies, whereas global peers invest in cloud services.

Bhattacharyya says the MEA results were largely in line with global findings. The exception was the use of IOT for smart payments systems, which ranked more highly in the MEA region than in the rest of the world. It came in at fifth place just after virtual or augmented reality.

Investment opportunity

Another area where MEA results differed from global trends was in investment. Storage was the top area of investment for MEA companies, followed by networking hardware. In contrast, global results indicated cloud services were the top investment area, followed by software infrastructure.

"Storage is a priority given the amount of data that is generated by IOT solutions, and the need to efficiently analyse the data in order to make the most of an IOT investment. As companies in the MEA become more comfortable with cloud-based solutions, we expect investment priorities to shift somewhat, with cloud-based services becoming a top investment area, similar to global results," says Bhattacharyya.

IOT investment plans for MEA. Table courtesy of Current Analysis.

IOT investment plans for MEA. Table courtesy of Current Analysis.

Although storage leads in terms of investment, there was no "clear winner" in this category and the survey showed companies are investing in a range of technologies to support their solutions.

Bhattacharyya says the breadth of investment priorities points to a breadth of deployment options and suggests market education efforts could pay dividends.

"Businesses possibly need guidance as to where to spend to make the most of their IOT investment," she adds.

Sensor and WAN investments lag slightly in terms of investment options, the study shows.

"It suggests enterprise buyers are focused right now more on what they can accomplish with IOT along some pretty well-known lines of opportunity (improving security, instrumenting employees, etc) and less on instrumenting facets of the business that are firstly, already well instrumented and monitored, and secondly, highly segmented in cost and management," explains Bhattacharyya.

She says this is the case with WAN equipment, which is a very well-known entity that already falls under a great deal of joint scrutiny between the enterprise and various service providers.

"I'm confident this area of interest will play a crucial role within IOT as the market matures, but for now, I think it's just not seen as an opportunity to break new ground or drive new business opportunities or cost reductions."

Drivers and inhibitors

Improved operational efficiency and cost reduction are the top ranked benefits expected from IOT deployments in MEA.

The survey found 53% of companies in the region ranked improved operational efficiencies as their top expectation from IOT deployment. Cost reduction was the top priority for 22% of those surveyed, while around 10% were looking for enhanced insight and decision-making or increased revenue from existing products and services. A very small percentage saw IOT improving revenue from new products or services.

Bhattacharyya says this is in line with global responses.

"It's unlikely this will change in the near future. New IT and communications technologies are often expected to improve efficiency and allow for cost savings. However, looking down the road, as businesses experience the benefits of IOT, it's more likely efficiency and productivity gains will be a stronger driver than cost savings," she adds.

MEA key IOT drivers. Table courtesy of Current Analysis.

MEA key IOT drivers. Table courtesy of Current Analysis.

Real-time data

Bhattacharyya says IOT technologies have reached a point of maturity where real-time data transfer is an achievable goal. However, when looking at the frequency of IOT data transmission and processing, only 31% of MEA companies are taking advantage of real-time communications when deploying IOT.

Around 57% of MEA companies transmit and process data multiple times per day. Bhattacharyya says MEA is slightly behind when compared to usage among Asia Pacific and European organisations, but in line with adoption in North America.

"IOT users process data according to use case and business requirements, not according to available network resources."

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