Photo: New Zealand IoT Alliance
New Zealand may soon have as many IoT sensor networks as it does species of kiwis. The difference is, IoT is going to take flight. With a potential net value to New Zealand of as much as $3.3 billion over 10 years from just nine applications, the IoT opportunity is a big one for solution providers and the country alike, according to a new report.
The study was commissioned by the New Zealand IoT Alliance, an independent, member-funded group made up of major corporations, tech firms, startups, universities and government agencies. The report examines topics critical to successful IoT adoption, including key opportunities, what’s holding back IoT uptake and recommended actions.
The study singles out four key opportunities for using IoT to generate economic growth in New Zealand:
1. Agribusiness. As a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy, IoT can improve productivity and efficiency. For example, IoT could be used to reduce environmental impacts and potentially help add value to volume.
2. Across cities. IoT can reduce operational costs and make cities more desirable for citizens. Cities can also benefit from sharing data, leading to new business and revenue streams by third parties.
3. Utilities. IoT metering reduces costs for both the supplier and the consumer. Opportunities include better network load management, early identification of leaks, automatic meter reading and accurate billing.
4. Asset tracking. Tracking location and usage of equipment, cargo and vehicles drives efficiency and reduces maintenance.
Photo: New Zealand IoT Alliance
What’s the Holdup?
While the potential upside for solution providers and the country is enormous, in order to realize these key opportunities, some obstacles must first be addressed.
According to the research, awareness, education and knowledge are the primary factors holding back the country’s IoT uptake.
Lack of awareness of how IoT can improve business is seen as the key barrier to the uptake of the technology. The fact that the most commonly cited barrier is upfront costs (21 percent of firms share this concern) reveals that most organizations lack clarity around the return on investment (ROI) they could receive. There is little understanding from Line-of-Business of the role real-time data can play and the value of that data, which translates to lower demand for it.
Fragmentation in the ecosystem is another key contributor to the slower implementation. As a function of being a country of small scale, New Zealand’s IoT solutions are fragmented by industry, making it more challenging to solve customer problems profitably. IoT use cases are not yet standardized and repeatable across industries—and often not even within industries.
Another missing piece to speeding up the country’s adoption of IoT is finding the right talent. The country needs mathematicians and data scientists who can develop algorithms to create analytical applications that will provide relevant and accurate insights. More IoT means more new kinds of employment, roles that require confidence with technology, a broad understanding of IoT and deeper understanding of the relevant parts of the ecosystem to the role.
Anticipated roles that will be in greater demand include:
- Data scientist
- Agricultural technologist
- Data security expert
- IoT business analyst
- Grid optimization engineer.
The final obstacle in the way of the country’s greater IoT uptake is the technology’s confusing plethora of standard protocols.
If a company is deploying IoT sensors, should it choose LPWAN for IoT connectivity? If so, is Sigfox, LoRa WAN or NB-IoT the right choice? Or should it be considering cellular connectivity instead? If so, 2G, 3G, 4G, 4.5G—or should it wait for 5G? Add in questions of Bluetooth, RFID, Thread, not to mention messaging protocols—MQTT or CoAP, or maybe Node—and confusion is quite understandable.
While multiple standards for different purposes makes sense in the long run, in the interim, the overabundance of options undermines customers’ confidence in making the best long-term decision, especially regarding the longevity of standards.
More Education, Less Fragmentation
Encouraging greater adoption of IoT requires addressing the above barriers. According to the research, this can be done through:
- Reduction of Fragmentation. The industry, sector leaders, government and academia should work together to reduce fragmentation, improve knowledge and experience sharing.
- More digital learning in schools. The government should continue to increase the focus on digital learning in primary and secondary schools to prepare the next generation with the skills they will need to exploit technologies such as IoT.
- Evolving tertiary courses. Tertiary providers should evolve courses to enable their students to develop the skills required for future jobs, including emerging IoT roles.
- Greater investment in IoT research. The government should ensure there are no unnecessary barriers deterring universities from undertaking research into IoT or preventing the IoT sector from accessing current R&D funding mechanisms.
- More collaboration to increase awareness. The government and industry should collaboratively create awareness and better understanding of the standard protocols to help reduce inhibition of business decision makers.
Photo: New Zealand IoT Alliance
The Power of Partnerships
The report notes that the key to success of IoT is partner relationships. To realize the opportunities that IoT can provide for New Zealand and for solution providers, greater attention should be paid to partnerships in the ecosystem, the developer community and alliances at the business and strategic level.
Partnerships in the ecosystem. Within the IoT ecosystem, no one vendor can do everything well. Mechanisms to encourage the development of strong partnerships will help enable the growth of IoT.
Developer community. New Zealand needs greater collaboration at the developer level, whether through professional groups or crowdsourcing type events, particularly aimed at young people to encourage skill development and connections.
Alliances at the business and strategic level. While vendors are likely to be reticent to collaborate at the technical level, strategic IoT alliances are a way to foster growth.
All the above actions can be supported by the development of a strong collaborative community or ecosystem. To learn more about the research and gain greater insight into solution provider opportunities, read the full report, “Accelerating a Connected New Zealand.”