A study by IT staffing firm TEksystems reports that businesses are struggling to get Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives past the concept stage. Of the 200 IT and business leaders polled, 42 percent said their business was in early talks regarding IoT and its impact on business. However, only 17 percent said they had pilot programs in place; 22 percent said they have finally "transitioned into IoT-driven processes, services and products."
According to TEKsystems Research Manager Jason Hayman, "IoT will enable the collection and aggregation of data that will drive digital transformation deeper within organizations, enabling better insight into customer experiences and sparking innovation. IoT is going to change the business-customer relationship in ways organizations haven't even thought of yet."
TEKsystems reports that less than a quarter of businesses have gotten to the point where IoT has started to impact the organization in a meaningful or measurable way. Most businesses are still simply talking about IoT or running test programs to get a better idea of how IoT implementations would work and to gauge the return on investment. Hayman says that the biggest roadblock for businesses so far seems to be establishing ROI and a sound business case for IoT, making it difficult to encourage funding and support for IoT.
Businesses overall lack confidence in their ability to adapt quickly to new technology as well as demonstrate the benefits to executives. In the study, 43 percent said they had concerns around ROI and demonstrating to business leaders that IoT investment is profitable. Concerns also exist regarding current business systems, with 37 percent stating they weren't confident regarding IoT compatibility with current networks and technology deployed in the office. Other concerns included proper budgets, concerns around "early stage" technology, unsure of how make the best use of IoT and an unmanageable increase in data.
Collaboration and skillset lacking
Respondents also reported low confidence in the business side's and IT's capability to work together to effectively implement IoT and the changes that would be necessary. Only 9 percent expressed full confidence that their business was ready for this adoption, while 12 percent strongly disagreed. The rest were somewhere in the middle, either answering that they "agreed," or remaining "neutral," when asked if they felt the communication between departments was strong enough for successful IoT adoption.
In order to succeed when establishing an IoT initiative, businesses need to be in constant communication with IT to better understand the challenges and what resources IT will need to get it off the ground. "IoT initiatives are big undertakings that need hand-in-hand partnership internally, and will likely require external partnerships to supplement internal resources as well. Everyone needs to be on the same page and working together to move the whole enterprise through the changes an IoT initiative will entail," according to Hayman.
Another stumbling block for companies is a lack of talent with the right skills. Respondents were asked to select which IoT skills they were having the most difficulty finding from a list provided by TEKSystems. Topping the list is information security, with 45 percent reporting it as a difficult skill to find in candidates. After information security came big data analytics at 34 percent, architects at 27 percent, cloud at 23 percent and business intelligence at 19 percent.
Emphasizing the lack of needed skills within organizations, TEKSystems found that one third of IT projects require external support from vendors and other third party resources. This only lends to business' low confidence in their ability to properly and effectively adopt the IoT. Without the right talent, taking on a project as big as IoT adoption can be daunting at best.
No denying the potential of IoT
Although adoption and confidence remain low, businesses agree that IoT initiatives will have a long-term impact on the business. Of those surveyed, 13 percent said it would have a "transformational impact," while 42 percent said "a significant impact." Another 43 percent said that IoT would have "some impact," and only 2 percent said there would be absolutely no impact. It seems leaders are aware of a growing impact from the IoT, but still haven't figured out how to successfully implement it into the overall business plan.
Businesses also seem to have a strong idea of how they want to use the IoT and where it might take the enterprise in the next five years. The number 1 objective for IoT in the long term is to help improve user and customer experiences, according to 64 percent of respondents. After that, 56 percent of business leaders expect the IoT "to spark innovation." Other hopes included creating more efficient business processes, developing new revenue streams, increasing ROI for IT and helping cut costs through operational efficiencies.
But as Hayman points out, "These are multi-year projects that will likely evolve over time, but there needs to be some kind of direction in the beginning to create a strategy that the business can rally around." That means businesses need to get started on IoT initiatives as soon as possible, so that they can grow and evolve effectively.
Finally, TEKsystems found that the larger business the more hopeful and optimistic it was about IoT than small businesses, and that the businesses that had already started IoT initiatives reported higher confidence about its impact. What the study revealed is that businesses understand the looming impact of IoT and that, used correctly, it can greatly benefit the enterprise albeit the roadblocks and challenges business leaders face when considering IoT adoption.