The UK could fall behind in the global IoT race and forfeit millions of pounds in benefits, according to a new study.

Research conducted by Microsoft found that UK businesses weren’t grasping the opportunities that the IoT already presents. In fact, just 73% of companies polled by Microsoft claimed they used the Internet of Thing currently. In Germany and China, meanwhile, the figure is 88%, whilst it’s 87% in France and 83% in Japan.

Whilst the IoT has become synonymous with ‘smart fridges’ and sophisticated systems involving all manner of devices talking to another, it’s not always that complex. Microsoft’s Azure, for example, allows plug-and-play integration for over 1,000 devices, and is already in wide use across many UK companies.

It seems the reluctance comes from many British firms not yet being able to see the benefit. Only 80% of firms surveyed claimed that the IoT was or would be crucial to overall business success. This put the UK bottom of the pile, with China (97%), Germany (92%), Japan (90%) and France (88%) all coming out higher.

It seems the other countries have put themselves in the more enviable position, at least if the latest report from McKinsey Global is to be believed – which claimed the IoT could have a potential economic impact of $11 trillion (£9tn) per year by 2025.

Companies that already used the IoT to great success claimed that operational optimization was the greatest benefit, with 56% of those polled citing it as a positive. Others included employee productivity (47%), safety and security (44%) and supply chain management (40%).

Interestingly, Microsoft discovered that whilst the IoT isn’t being adopted by the same number of companies here in the UK as elsewhere, those which had made the change had really embraced it. British companies using the IoT were discovered to have invested far more into the technology than their peers in France and Japan.

Director of Azure Business at Microsoft UK, Michael Wignall, said: “The expanding potential of IoT technology enables firms to overcome a broad range of challenges.

“We look forward to more UK organisations utilising this technology to further their organisations’ success and compete in international marketplaces.”