When it comes to IoT security, Vodafone's Phil Skipper said there needs to be as much control as possible across four primary areas: access to the network, the network, the management platform and storage of the IoT data.
Telco Transformation caught up with Skipper, Vodafone's head of IoT business development, to get his take on a recent IoT report by his company as well as his thoughts on the future of IoT security.
Now in its fifth year, Vodafone's IoT Barometer Report has traced the steady rise of IoT adoption. The overwhelming majority of companies that have adopted IoT reported that their use of it has grown in the last year. About half of the respondents said that they see it enhancing existing revenues or opening up new revenue streams.
Telco Transformation: The report says that only 7% of companies with 10,000 or more connected devices cite security as their top worry. Do you think that this is because in their experience, the connections seem secure, or do the companies with more tolerance for risk tend to be more enthusiastic about IoT adoption?
Phil Skipper: Many of the companies with 10,000 or more connected devices have the expertise and resources necessary to tackle security concerns. We can compare the percent of companies with 10,000 or more connected devices citing security as their top concern with the 19% of the companies with smaller IoT deployments who say security is their top concern. This suggests that the solutions are there, but not everyone has the right resources just yet. The organizations that do have the resources to address IT security concerns see security as an enabler that gives them confidence to push business forward. We actually found that more than three-quarters of businesses surveyed believe this to be true.
TT: Do cultural differences also play a role? For example, are companies from the EU perhaps more concerned about security because of the regionís stricter rules on securing personal data?
PS: Security is a priority for companies across every industry, all over the world, especially as they adopt new technologies and continue to become more digital.
Some companies' efforts to improve security have partly been driven by increased regulation around data protection and privacy. For example, the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU has put an even greater onus on companies to be more transparent about what data they capture, what they do with that data and how they secure it.
TT: As security is identified as remaining the biggest barrier for organizations considering IoT deployment, what is on the table to address those concerns?
PS: While security will always be an important consideration for organizations looking to implement new technology, we're seeing that organizations are more optimistic when it comes to IoT security than they have ever been in the past. Companies are taking more steps to tackle security concerns head on, including increasing security training for existing staff, working with specialist security providers and recruiting more IT security specialists. One of the key factors for future protection will be ensuring organizations have the right resources to address concerns that may arise.
TT: Do you offer companies guidelines for best practices for IoT security?
PS: Absolutely. Itís understandable that business decision-makers have concerns about IoT security, and it's our goal to help enterprises secure global deployments and get the reassurance they need to move forward with IoT. We recently published a paper
that answers the most common questions related to IoT security, and offers guidance to companies that may have security concerns.
TT: Is Vodafone doing anything in particular on its end to strengthen security?
PS: Security is built into all elements of our IoT solutions, from the ground up. If you look at the four main components of an IoT project -- access to the network, the network, the management platform and storage of the IoT data -- for optimum security you want to have as much control as possible over all four of these elements. At Vodafone, we have that control and therefore are able to assure customers of the integrity of our service.
TT: Was the rate of growth for business IoT adoption and connectivity last year consistent with the years before, or did things shift?
PS: Over the past five years that Vodafone has conducted this research and published the IoT Barometer, weíve seen a steady increase in the rate at which companies around the world are adopting and implementing IoT.
This year, research shows that the proportion of companies using IoT has more than doubled over the past five years, with adoption rising from 12% in 2013 to 29% in 2017. The other interesting finding is that organizations that are using IoT are using more of it. Eighty-four percent of the companies we spoke to agree that their adoption of IoT solutions has grown over the past 12 months, and 12% of adopters now have at least 10,000 connected devices.
TT: Which industries are currently the most heavily invested in IoT and which ones are turning to it now to realize new and increase current revenue streams?
PS: In terms of the number of companies that are using IoT relative to other industries, consumer electronics is at the top, with automotive and energy and utilities close behind. However, when we look at the number of companies scaling IoT projects with over 1,000 connected devices, then the automotive and energy and utilities industries are leading.
In the Americas, weíve also seen a large number of mobile health projects come to life as healthcare providers look for ways to use technology to provide better care to their patients.
TT: The report says that 28% of all companies now are considering newer technologies such as narrowband-IoT. Is that up over last year? Would you anticipate that would continue to rise as connectivity increases?
PS: We see narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) as one of the major technologies that will drive connectivity and the growth of IoT. Given that NB-IoT makes it possible to connect billions more low-power devices than ever before, it's no surprise more and more companies are considering it. NB-IoT offers power efficiency at a lower price point, and opens the door to mass IoT deployment opportunities. It is likely companies will continue to consider NB-IoT and other new IoT technologies as adoption grows. Analysys Mason predicts there will be 3.5 billion connections on Low Power-Wide Area Networks by 2025, whereas today there are likely fewer than 100 million connections on these networks.
TT: Were there any surprises in the IoT report?
PS: The findings from the 2017 Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) IoT Barometer underscore how important IoT has become to businesses around the world. With 67% of the respondents seeing IoT as mission critical to their business and another 66% saying digital transformation is impossible without IoT, it's clear how key IoT is to the future of organizations globally.
It's also interesting to see that adopters donít view IoT as its own entity. Accordingly, 82% of adopters agree that IoT isnít a standalone technology but is intrinsically linked to analytics, AI and other critical digital initiatives. This shows the maturity of IoT adoption and how itís being implemented across business processes.
— Ariella Brown, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation