After endless cycles of hype and hyperbole , it seems most business executives are still excited about the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, a recent survey of 200 IT and business leaders conducted by TEKSystems ® and released in January 2016 determined that 22% of the organizations surveyed have already realized significant benefits from their early IoT initiatives. Additionally, a full 55% expect a high level of impact from IoT initiatives over the next 5 years. Conversely, only 2% predicted no impact at all.
Respondents also cited the key areas in which they expect to see some of the transformational benefits of their IoT efforts, including creating a better user and customer experience (64%), sparking innovation (56%), creating new and more efficient work practices and business processes, (52%) and creating revenue streams through new products and services (50%).
So, with the early returns indicating there are in fact real, measurable benefits to be won in the IoT, and the majority of executives expect these benefits to be fundamental, why are some organizations still relevant to move forward with their own IoT initiatives?
As could be expected, security is the largest concern, cited by approximately half of respondents.
With the World Wide Web as an example, people today are well aware of the dangers inherent in transmitting data between nodes on a network. With many of these organizations working with key proprietary operational data that could prove advantageous to a competitor if exposed, the concern is very understandable.
This is a classic example of not knowing what you do not know. Without an established example of how similar initiatives have impacted your organization in the past – or even how similarly sized and structured organizations have been impacted – it can be very difficult to demonstrate in a tangible way exactly how these efforts will affect the bottom line. Without being able to make the business case, it will be difficult for executives to sign off any new initiatives. This is likely why larger organizations ($ 5 + billion in annual revenue) are much more likely to have already implemented IoT initiatives, while smaller organizations are still in the planning phase.
Nobody likes to start over, and many of the executives surveyed are dealing with organizations who have made impressive investments in the technology that they are currently using. The notice of a “rip and replace” type of implementation is not very appealing. The cost is not only related to the downtime incurred in these cases, but the wasted cost associated with the expensive equipment and software systems that are being cast aside. In most cases, to gain any transaction at all a proposed IoT initiative will have to work with the systems that are already in place – not replace them.
With the IoT still being a fairly young concept, many organizations are concerned that they lack the technical expertise needed to properly plan and implement an IoT initiative. There are many discussions taking place about how much can be handled by internal staff and how much may need to be out-sourced. Without confidence in their internal capabilities, it is also difficult to know whether or not they even have a valid strategy or understanding of the possibilities. Again, this is a case where larger organizations with larger pools of talent have an advantage.
There are some valid concerns, and not all of them lend themselves to simple solutions. In truth, many of the solutions will vary from one organization to the next. However, in many cases the solutions could be as simple as just choosing the right software platform. Finding a platform that eases your concerns about interoperability can also help ease your concerns about whether or not your staff can handle the change, as there will be no need to replace equipment. Likewise, a platform that can be integrated seamlessly into your current operations to help improve efficiency and implement optimization strategies will also make it much easier to demonstrate ROI.
B-Scada has released a new whitepaper on choosing the right IoT platform for your project. If you’re thinking about taking that leap into the IoT, it’s well worth the read.