The "Internet of Things" presents a massive opportunity that Canadian businesses have yet to capitalize upon, according to a Telus-commissioned IDC survey released this week.
The survey, which examined the current state of IoT deployments in Canada, found that only 6 per cent of Canadian businesses have implemented an IoT solution, and that another 7 per cent are preparing to deploy in 2014.
The technology is on the cusp of rapid growth, however, with an additional 30 per cent of businesses intending to deploy in the next 24 months and annual IoT spending in Canada predicted to grow from $5.6 billion in 2013 to $21 billion in 2018 - a 375 per cent increase.
"The Internet of Things can fundamentally alter the way Canadian companies do business and we expect a sharp spike in growth as business leaders embrace the technology," said Jim Senko, senior vice-president of Small Business and Emerging Markets.
An IoT solution can help a business achieve greater productivity, reliability and quality of service while reducing costs, according to Telus. The data collected can help automate processes and enable improved decision making, leading to outcomes like higher quality manufacturing, faster delivery times, reduced waste, shorter wait times and better patient care, the Canadian telco says.
Despite its massive potential, only 13 per cent of current IoT projects are considered to be "transformational" - meaning they fundamentally change business processes or become a launch pad for new businesses. IDC predicts that the number of transformational projects will rise over time as business leaders recognize the possibilities of IoT and learn from pilot projects.
"IoT can not only increase productivity, it can enable entirely new business models," said Tony Olvet, Group Vice President, Research at IDC Canada.
IoT - the evolution of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology - is a network of uniquely identifiable end points (or things) that communicate without human interaction, most commonly over a wireless network. Wireless network technologies are currently used in 82 per cent of IoT deployments; this figure is expected grow going forward due to the pervasiveness of wireless connectivity.