5G, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications, is making headlines left and right, and it could be a key piece of the connectivity puzzle going forward. The conversation is ongoing about how close the U.S. really is to commercial deployment of 5G. Some say widespread rollouts will come as early as next year, while others predict the U.S. is closer to 5-10 years out. Just how interested are companies in 5G and other emerging technology trends, such as blockchain? What’s holding IoT adoption back, and how do businesses plan to overcome these challenges?
A new research study from Internet of Things World, an IoT (Internet of Things) conference and expo, provides a glimpse into this answer. The survey, which engaged more than 100 IoT leaders in a range of industries, including manufacturing, telecoms, healthcare, retail, construction, supply chain and logistics, oil and gas/energy, government, transportation, and agriculture, suggests there is interest in 5G right now, but interest isn’t overwhelming. On one hand, 41% of respondents report they would deploy IoT devices on a 5G network this year if it were available. On the other hand, if 5G were an option right now, 37% say of survey respondents they’d stick with their current wireless networks and take a “wait-and-see approach” to 5G.
As 5G rollouts ramp up, however, the percentage of IoT leaders showing interest in it will ramp up as well. This will be especially true as more companies in more industries conduct 5G pilots and demonstrate value-added results. Industries that require fast network speeds and low latency may be the first to jump on board. Healthcare, for instance, could benefit from 5G through the growing practice of telemedicine, in which patients and doctors collaborate using video conferencing, wearable sensors, and other technologies that facilitate remote monitoring, communication, and care. In manufacturing, 5G is expected to elevate companies’ ability to achieve maximum operating efficiency, boosting productivity to new levels. Transportation, though often cited as one of the industries that will benefit most from 5G, is up for debate, since AVs (autonomous vehicles) won’t necessarily need a 5G connection to operate.
5G is one current technology trend that Internet of Things World’s survey says IoT executives are in the process of warming up to, and another is blockchain. While 29% of IoT leaders say that don’t currently see a benefit of leveraging blockchain in their organizations, another 29% reported their belief that blockchain, due to its background in high-end cryptography, could help with IoT security.
For these business leaders, the top IoT concerns include implementation (34%) and security (25%). These concerns are followed by initial purchase costs (17%), scalability (10%), business buy-in (8%), and upkeep costs (3%). Despite these hurdles, 66% of respondents report their leadership supports their companies’ IoT efforts, which will go a long way in overcoming them. IoT leaders also say they’re focusing on training and hiring to support IoT implementations. Six in 10 (64%) say they plan on training current employees for new, more technical, roles to support IoT efforts, and 63% say they plan to hire new employees, including data analysts. Meanwhile, almost half of respondents (46%) plan to offer internal training to help get their existing workforce up to speed.
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