Mobility and IoT; Have Businesses Changed Their Spending Due to COVID-19?

K. Weldon
K. Weldon

Summary Bullets:

• GlobalData’s latest ICT survey includes questions on 2019 budget and 2020 spending plans for many technologies, as well as pre and post COVID-19 priorities and investment plans. The survey covers diverse areas from digital transformation to cloud services, software, hardware, networking, security, consulting, outsourcing, mobility, IoT, and more.

• Mobility and IoT spending appear relatively static, as the percent of the budget they represent hardly changed from 2019 to 2020. However, 12% of respondents said mobile spending may decrease due to COVID-19, and the percent of businesses planning to invest in subsets of IoT such as telematics, NFC, security and IoT platforms will also decrease due to COVID-19 concerns.

COVID-19 has put a damper on the spending plans of many businesses, especially in hard-hit verticals such as retail, travel and tourism, public and private transportation, retail banking, and non-essential businesses where people normally congregate.

Many expenses and planned investments in core networking technologies such as mobility have been riding the wave of the increased need for remote collaboration and communication at a time when droves of employees have begun to work from home. However, longer-term complex enterprise mobility plans may be delayed, not only for hard-hit verticals but also for add-ons such as managed services, new mobile apps, content and expense management, and upgraded security. Expansion of existing deployments to new branches, regions, or employees, and upgrades of company-owned devices may also be put on hold.

These kinds of trends are illustrated in the numbers in the GlobalData ICT survey. For example:


• While IoT expenses were 25% of the total budget for digital transformation technologies both pre- and post-COVID-19, the make-up of the IoT budget has changed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Areas that will decrease more than a couple of percentage points include investments in telematics, near field communications (NFC), security sensors, real-time location tracking, and IoT platforms. This may just mean that initial or increased investment in these areas will be delayed.

• Pre- and post-COVID-19 percentages of the IoT budget were also looked at in terms of devices, connectivity, software and services, and MEC, but there was little change in the proportion of these elements in the budget in the two periods. For example, devices will go up from 27% in pre-COVID-19 times to 28% of the IoT budget post-COVID-19 (perhaps a rounding error), while MEC will go down from 22% to 21%.

• GlobalData notes that it is likely that new IoT deployments or expanded ones may be delayed and that this will have some effect on IoT provider revenues in 2020. But from a budgeting perspective, businesses do not seem to think they will significantly decrease the amount they spend for IoT solutions.


• Globally 12% of respondents said mobility spending in their company has decreased by over 20% in 2020.

• However this varies regionally: in the Americas, the percent was 18%, with only 10% in EMEA and in APAC seeing this shrinkage for mobile expenditures.

• In fact, 35% of all respondents state that spending for mobility has been flat (i.e., unchanging in their budgets from 2019 to 2020).

The percent of respondents that see different elements of mobility as priorities will change due to COVID-19. For example, prioritization of mobile application development, mobile device management, mobile content management and TEM will decrease by a few percentage points, while managed mobility  will increase by a few points. This is interesting and explainable, perhaps, but the differences aren’t significant enough to be conclusive.

For providers of mobility and IoT services there is some good news as well as some difficult information in these findings. As GlobalData updates its mobility and IoT forecasts it is also predicting that there will be a hit on 2020 revenues for providers of both mobile connectivity and more advanced enterprise mobility and IoT solutions. But most companies believe that in a post-COVID-19 world, projects that have been deferred or delayed will resume. After all, mobility facilitates remote communication and information access, which is exactly what we need during the pandemic. And IoT enables remote monitoring and control, asset management, predictive maintenance, remote surveillance, and other applications that help companies stay in business without endangering their employees.


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