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IoT set to overtake cloud computing as primary industry 4.0 tech in agriculture: Inmarsat research

A new research by Inmarsat, a global mobile satellite communications company, revealed that investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overtake cloud computing, next generation security, big data analytics and other digital transformation technologies, across the agricultural sector in the near future

Agricultural respondents reported plans to invest the greatest share of their IT budget on IoT projects over the next three years.

IoT has reached a high level of maturity across most organisations, with agricultural businesses now planning to spend an average of US$2mn on their IoT investments through to 2024. While IoT accounted for an average of 7.3% of a typical agricultural organisation’s IT budget between 2017 and 2020, businesses are planning to spend 10.2% of their IT budgets on IoT projects over the next three years. Planned investments in IoT are notably higher than those earmarked for other Industry 4.0 technologies, including cloud computing (9.2%), next generation security (7.3%), big data analytics (7.3%), robotics (5.4%), and augmented reality (4.8%).

In addition to receiving more investment than other technologies vying for IT budgets, the new research also reveals that the mainstream adoption of IoT across the agricultural sector is already making a significant difference in terms of operational cost-savings to many organisations. On average, agricultural respondents report that IoT projects currently save their organisations 7% of their yearly costs. In the future, respondents expect to achieve an average of 12% cost-savings in 12 months’ time, rising to 20% in three years and 28% in five years’ time.

Despite IoT investments ranking comfortably ahead of other digital technologies across the board, budgets are still a challenge for the agricultural sector. On average, the planned spend on IoT projects per agricultural organisation in the next three years is just under $2mn, which is lower than planned IoT investments in oil and gas (US$3.2mn) and electrical utilities (US$3.1mn).

While speaking about IoT investments in the agricultural sector, Steven Tompkins, director of Market Development at Inmarsat, said, “Our latest research findings confirm that investment in IoT has reached a high level of maturity in the agricultural sector. Agricultural businesses have a strong knowledge of the possibilities for IoT to save them money in the short and long term. It also provides visibility and automation across production and supply chains, whether it is to help growers understand weather and soil conditions in the field, to provide cattle farmers’ information on their animals’ welfare, or helping aquaculturists monitor the oxygen levels in their salmon pens. The sector is benefiting from ‘smart’ farming techniques.”

Commenting on the findings, Mike Carter, president of Inmarsat Enterprise, added, “Our latest research revealed that IoT is now the primary Industry 4.0 technology in which companies are investing over the next three years. The emergence of IoT as an investment priority for businesses, and the increasing level of cost-savings they expect IoT to deliver in the years ahead, clearly show how well-established a technology IoT has become in agriculture. However, there are still several significant areas for all organisations on which to improve to draw optimum benefits from the technology – securing reliable connectivity, improving data management and addressing their IoT skills gaps and security concerns.”

Mike explained that Inmarsat ELERA, a narrowband network, is ideally suited to the rapidly evolving world of IoT and the billions of devices that are being connected every year. “They deliver global reach, extraordinary resilience, and the fastest speeds, along with the smallest, lowest-cost terminals in their class. ELERA is inspiring new possibilities and enabling organisations from all sectors to access IoT anywhere and will be a catalyst for the next wave of world-changing technologies. Organisations looking to accelerate their IoT deployments don’t have to look further than Inmarsat and our global partner ecosystem, to solve their IoT connectivity needs.”