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HALF OF ORGANISATIONS UNDERTAKING IOT PROJECTS HAVE FULLY IMPLEMENTED STRATEGY – BUT CONCERNS OVER SECURITY, LACK OF FUNDING AND COMMITMENT – WI-SUN ALLIANCE RESEARCH SHOWS 

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HALF OF ORGANISATIONS UNDERTAKING IOT PROJECTS HAVE FULLY IMPLEMENTED STRATEGY – BUT CONCERNS OVER SECURITY, LACK OF FUNDING AND COMMITMENT - WI-SUN ALLIANCE RESEARCH SHOWS 

– Enabling Internet of Things one of top IT priorities for next 12 months – 

A new report by the Wi-SUN Alliance, a global member-based association driving the proliferation of interoperable wireless solutions for use in smart cities, smart utilities and other Internet of Things (IoT) applications, shows that half of organisations investing in IoT initiatives already have a fully implemented strategy in place, while more than a third (36%) have a partially implemented strategy. Companies are most advanced in the Oil & Gas industry, with 75% having a fully implemented strategy, followed by Technology (59%) and Energy and Utilities (57%).

A survey of 350 IT decision makers in the UK, US, Sweden and Denmark examining attitudes to IoT, including the drivers, barriers, challenges and benefits, the research highlights the growing number of smart utilities, smart cities and broader IoT projects in progress. While respondents report that enabling IoT is the second most important IT priority for the next 12 months, just behind improving security, almost all (90%) of those with an IoT plan at various stages of implementation have struggled to implement this, with over a third (36%) saying they find it “very or extremely difficult”.

When it comes to the key drivers for IoT implementation, around half (47%) of those surveyed report it will improve ‘network intelligence and connectivity for citizen safety and quality of life’, followed by ‘creating business efficiencies’ (42%) and ‘improving reliability of systems and services’ (41%). Two-thirds of respondents’ organisations with an IoT strategy report that it covers how IoT can be used to improve the customer experience, while six in ten say it includes a plan for continuous IoT improvement.

Benefits, barriers, and challenges when delivering IoT initiatives:

  • 99% have enjoyed benefits as a result of IoT implementations, including better business efficiency (54%), an improved customer experience (49%) and better collaboration (48%). Additional benefits include reduced costs (45%) and faster time to market (40%).
  • Respondents highlight security as a barrier to IoT adoption. 59% of them cite security concerns, with the US (65%) and UK (64%) far more concerned than those in Denmark or Sweden. Nearly a third (32%) see funding, as well as a lack of commitment from leadership, as barriers, while 30% view leadership’s lack of understanding of the benefits of IoT as a challenge.
  • The technical challenges when delivering IoT are security and safety (63%), data management (46%), network configuration (41%), recruiting IoT talent (39%) and Wi-Fi connectivity (39%).

When asked what their organisation looks for when evaluating IoT technologies, 58% of respondents look for network topology and coverage, followed by communications performance in terms of latency, bandwidth and bi-directional communication (53%). Other characteristics include support for industry standards (52%), while standardisation is also important when it comes to choosing IoT in specific applications – 45% of respondents demand that smart city IoT solutions be built using industry-wide open standards, while 43% say it is absolutely crucial in a smart utilities.

As for network technologies, respondents are most likely to be familiar with Wi-SUN (56%), SigFox (49%), or NB-IoT (45%).

“While all organisations taking part had IoT initiatives underway, it’s very encouraging to see that over half have an IoT strategy fully implemented, with the vast majority of those in sectors you’d most closely associate with smart city and smart utility initiatives, such as Energy and Utilities, as well as Oil and Gas companies,” according to Phil Beecher, President and CEO, Wi-SUN Alliance. “It’s also encouraging to see Wi-SUN supported by so many products and solutions out there and leading the pack in terms of networking technologies.

“However, there’s a lot of education still to be done for those looking to implement IoT, smart cities and other IoT initiatives, especially when selecting the right technology. For example, there are some fundamental advantages of Wi-SUN, including support for higher data rates delivering lower latency, mesh network configuration, increasing network resilience – and importantly, extremely robust security. Our advice for those developing, designing or procuring IoT, now or in the future, is to look closely at the reliability they need, the latency, and the security – and to make sure that these match up with the needs and goals of the organisation.” 

Additional findings:

  • Between a third and half of respondents’ organisations (already investing in an IoT initiative) have already implemented industrial IoT (45%), smart cities (41%), or smart utilities’ (34%) initiatives. If not already implemented, around half are likely to be either piloting/testing or planning to implement smart initiatives.
  • For smart city solutions, proven security with multi-layer protection and continuous monitoring is ‘absolutely crucial’ for half of respondents, while industry-wide open standards (45%) and seamless integration between devices and applications (40%) are also crucial.
  • For smart utility solutions, proven security (44%) is considered absolutely crucial, followed by industry-wide open standards (43%) and speed and latency (40%).
  • For organisations who have an IoT strategy at some level, 76% will likely or definitely roll out security & surveillance, 72% water & gas metering, 64% electric vehicle charging, 57% street lights, 56% smart parking and 63% advanced meter infrastructure in the next 12 to 18 months.

To access the report findings, please visit: https://www.wi-sun.org/index.php/vb-iot-rpt/file.

To download the infographic, please visit: https://www.wi-sun.org/index.php/vb-iot-info/file.

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InsurTech is helping to drive the digital evolution of the UK motor retail industry

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InsurTech is helping to drive the digital evolution of the UK motor retail industry 1

By Alan Inskip, Tempcover CEO & Founder

If the last nine months have made anything clear, it is that the pandemic has fundamentally changed both buying and driving habits for UK motorists. The latest Tempcover research has revealed that online-only used car sales had increased fifteen-fold during the pandemic among 2,000 survey respondents.

Before lockdown, just 4% of used car sales were fully-digital. The vast majority of those surveyed opted for either a physical purchase (50%) or a digitally-assisted purchase (45%), relying on a combination of digital tools and an in person viewing or road test before buying.

While car sales overall are down on last year’s figures*, one in six (17%) of those surveyed had bought a used car during lockdown, with two thirds (64%) relying on a fully-digital purchase journey. Digitally-assisted purchases counted for one in five (20%) used car sales, while in person sales fell to just 15% – no surprise considering the ongoing social distancing measures.

And when it comes to arranging insurance for their recently-purchased vehicle, our survey participants displayed an equal balance between telephone and online as the preferred method (48% each). Nearly a third of those (28%) said they wait up to ten minutes for their policy to be confirmed, and a further 22% wait as long as 20 minutes to get cover.

The switch to digital insurance, driven by InsurTech

In the midst of rapid and significant market changes, many traditional insurers have lacked the agility and flexibility to adapt accordingly. InsurTech can provide immense value in bridging that gap, as the digital solutions are entirely scalable, with the flexibility to substantially increase in size and across multiple geographies, with minimal disruption.

Alan Inskip

Alan Inskip

The ongoing decline of physical transactions in the motor retail industry is a perfect example of how InsurTech is adding value. Several national blue-chip dealerships, with both physical and digital showroom floors, are already streamlining their online purchase process by offering temporary driveaway insurance policies to cover the vehicle for a fixed-term, usually between five to seven days, as part of the purchase journey.

The entirely online one-step user experience is the first of its kind in the traditionally outdated and inflexible driveaway insurance industry and it is dramatically simplifying the process of how insurance is purchased and consumed. Due to the flexibility and agility of the digital solution, each retailer has its own unique URL, where the customer can obtain a simple single-cost policy in just 90 seconds through an entirely digital process, which fits in line with the evolving consumer purchase trends.

For the dealers, this technology means more efficient stock clearance times and greater profitability. For the buyers, it takes the stress out of searching for annual insurance on the spot, and provides the driver with near instant cover so that they can immediately drive their new car, while giving them the opportunity to thoroughly research the best annual policy to suit their needs. An added benefit is there’s no risk to any existing No Claims Discount, as it’s a separate and standalone policy.

While there is a chance these trends will reverse to some extent post pandemic, it is clear that the consumer appetite for digital purchase and consumption is here to stay, and InsurTech will continue to lead the way in making motor insurance more easily-accessible across digital platforms, while offering consumers the best value for money.

* https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-8615851/Used-car-sales-halved-lockdown-brakes-1m-motor-transactions.html

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Five ways enterprises are using the public cloud

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Five ways enterprises are using the public cloud 2

By Michael Chalmers, MD EMEA at Contino

The public cloud is the most significant enabler in a generation. It’s causing a massive shift in how businesses are operating and tearing apart previous business models.

Amid challenging economic times, it’s inevitable that spending within IT is dropping. However, the cloud is the only segment that is still growing. The public cloud is increasingly becoming a central element of enterprise IT.

Contino asked 250 IT decision-makers at enterprise companies across Europe, USA and APAC within companies of over 5,000 employees about their views on the state of the public cloud within their organisation at the beginning of 2020.  Nearly all of them (99%) saw a significant technical benefit compared with on-premises.

Here are some other ways public cloud is being used by enterprises:

  1. Widely, albeit not yet business wide.

A whopping 77% of enterprises are using the public cloud in some capacity. Overall, 50% of businesses are utilising a hybrid cloud, 22% single private cloud, 20% multi-cloud, 7% single public cloud and only 1% are using only on-premises.

But only 13% of businesses have a fully-fledged public cloud program. The largest set of respondents (42%) have multiple apps/projects deployed in the cloud. 24% were still working on initial proofs-of-concept, and 18% were in the planning stages.

83% of respondents said they want to grow their cloud program. Almost half (48%) do wish to grow, but with caution, while 36% want to move as quickly as possible.

Only 4% plan to revert to on-premises but are in no rush to do so.

  1. To enhance security and compliance versus on-premises, although these are still also seen as barriers to adoption.

A massive 64% of respondents stated they find this more secure than on-premises, and only 7% see it to be less secure. 72% found it easier to stay compliant with business data in the cloud versus only 4% who found it harder.  However, 48% cited that their biggest barrier for not using the cloud was security, and 37% stated the need to remain compliant was the most prevalent blocker.

Other challenges also posed a barrier: a lack of skills, the cost to purchase and cloud-native operating models not working with existing investments made up 29-32% of responses.

19% stated that lack of leadership buy-in is the biggest barrier, reflecting that a significant number of IT departments have a need for this solution but have not been provided with the support to do so. However, relatively speaking, this was one of the least-cited barriers.

  1. For improved efficiency, scalability and agility, but vendor lock-in is still a major concern.

The top three cited technical benefits of public cloud were better efficiency, agility and scalability versus on-premises. However, 63% of IT professionals were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very much’ afraid of the commitment that can come with investing in the cloud. This is another major barrier that is preventing businesses from ​migrating to the cloud.

Only 23% are not afraid of being locked in and a meagre 5% have no fear at all. However, the fact that 77% of businesses are using the cloud shows any risk of being locked in is outweighed by the benefits of the cloud.

  1. To align IT with the business.

This is by far the most cited business benefit of the public cloud. 100% of those surveyed witnessed varied business benefits versus on-premises. Other major benefits include the ability to focus on new revenues (43%), accelerated time-to-market (43%), and increased ROI (40%).

  1. To accelerate innovation and increases cost-effectiveness.

Innovating in the cloud was quicker for 81% of respondents. What’s more, not one person surveyed said the cloud slowed down their innovation. 79% have saved money with the cloud and only 5% have found it more of an expense than on-premises.

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Another ‘new normal’? Five challenges CTOs will face in 2021

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Another ‘new normal’? Five challenges CTOs will face in 2021 3

By Amit Dattani, Director of Technology at Conosco

We’re one year into the new decade, and arguably technology has guided the 2020’s so far. Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), responsible for taking ownership across IT networks, have faced new challenges as they spearhead the rapid adoption of a number of digital services.

CTOs have a lot on their plate. Many are responsible for managing production workflow, defining technology roadmaps and budgeting the cost of technology. However for smaller businesses, CTOs will also be responsible for leading the cybersecurity strategy, and defining the data protection guidelines.

We’re at an exciting time for innovation in the UK, and CTO’s need to provide sound technical leadership to the board and to employees. What challenges will CTOs need to overcome in their IT strategy for 2021?

1- Data compliance

After a number of GDPR lawsuits, there is growing concern over the state of business’ data handling. And post-Brexit, the ‘new normal’ will change again for data management and CTOs. GDPR will no longer be binding in the UK after 1 January 2021, leading to new data laws being introduced. Fear not – the UK government has said it intends to incorporate GDPR into UK data protection laws, but it’s still incredibly likely there will be tweaks and amendments to it.

The number of data privacy cases will likely continue to increase, but with every case brings further clarity to other businesses learning lessons about data protection. CTOs need to consider who will be responsible for the flow of personal data, reviewing information and ensuring that the correct processes are in place for business continuity and disaster recovery.

2 – Changing mindsets on data

Data is not the devil – but CTO’s already know that. Their customers and others in the leadership team, however, may not be comfortable with that thinking. The demand for data as a product is through the roof, providing value-added digital transformations and acting as a virtual decision-maker.

The growing complexity of the nation’s habits and desires means that data has had to fast track the growth of knowledge. Data removes the ‘intuition’ that senior decision makers have to go on, and instead validates the course of action you choose for your business.

CTOs need to ensure they have transparent processes in place about the status of their data integrity. Be open about the processes, and what you use your customer and employee data for. And for the leadership team, it will become harder and harder to avoid the benefits of using Big Data – such as improved operational efficiency, greater transparency into costs, and smarter decision making.

3 –  CFOs will try to claw back early 2020 investments

Technology has proved it’s the beating heart of business continuity during these unusual times. But Gartner’s IT spending report found that budgets were down 6.5% overall in Europe.

One of the things on top of all Chief Financial Officers (CFO) priority lists is to reduce any overspend and improve budgeting. Cuts to IT aren’t because leaders need convincing of the importance of technology – it’s a priority.

But due to the increased spending on short-term fixes to enable businesses to work from home in the first ‘new normal’ of 2020, many businesses are scrutinising any extra investments to claw back some of the overspend. It will be a case of proving why it is crucial for businesses to gain an innovation edge and speed up digital transformation.

Especially for public companies – their share prices can increase or decrease value just by public perception – which is definitely something which board members care about. Consider looking into better tools, services and solutions which can allow for better budget use and a deeper understanding into the benefits your investments are making to your company.

4 – Tackling the talent shortage

Another main challenge of CTOs is a lack of knowledge by employees on new technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. A 2020 PwC survey finds that 74 percent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills. A company is only as good as its people, but when the purse strings have tightened, there may be less scope for hiring externally, and instead you turn to upskilling.

Outsourcing talent can help you to keep innovating, get you on your feet and provide a better service. But continuing to innovate must mean that you have the skills to align with new projects that are in the pipeline. You should be prioritising time on training, but you can also bring in skill sets by working with targeted recruiters and external partners.

5 – Delayed technical debt

After the shift to an almost-fully virtual world in March, many companies faced new challenges that they needed quick fixes for in the race to appeal to the market.

But while quick solutions can generate business sales, if you only focus on the ‘essentials’ at the time and not the full picture, you risk facing vulnerabilities. For example, if you prioritise your employees need to work from home, but don’t invest in data management and security planning such as a VPN, issues will eventually begin to surface.

Opting for cloud and SaaS solutions will remove the issue of foresight, and avoid your team being faced with the decision between the urgent and the important. CTOs will need to have their fingers on not just the technology, but also the timing of their investments.

To avoid technical debt, ensure good policies and governance are in place for all technology under the CTO remit. This could include a regular analysis of your strategy to ensure overall architecture is needed. This limits technology creep, which leads to technical debt. You should also add technical debt into your agile development cycles – e.g. every sprint must have 10% tech debt work, or every 5th sprint is a ‘bug bash.’

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