The enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) is poised for strong growth. But are enterprises ready for IoTification? (A term first coined by IoT thought leader Tony Shan.)
That’s the gist of recent surveys, which suggest that executives understand the potential of IoT, but recognize that it’s going to take a lot of work to embed it into their businesses. IoT, of course, is that rapidly expanding mesh of devices, sensors and applications that generate on-point data streamed into more centralized locations for reporting, aggregation, analysis or action.
A recent survey out of McKinsey & Company, for one, suggests that just about everyone has gotten IoT religion. The survey finds that 98 percent of executives include enterprise IoT initiatives somewhere within their strategic road maps. Areas slated for IoTification include those “related to improving service operations, increasing visibility into operations, enabling new business models, and creating new product and service offerings,” the survey shows.
Another survey from Canonical detailed some of the benefits executives expect from these efforts. For example, 25 percent expect to achieve greater insights into their businesses, while 25 percent see opportunities to launch new products and services.
However, it’s too soon to tell how IoT is progressing, as many IoT initiatives are still in the single-focus pilot stage. Things are too narrow at this stage, the McKinsey report’s authors, Michael Chui, Vasanth Ganesan, and Mark Patel, point out. As anyone experienced with pilot programs know, things change when it comes to scaling to a larger segment of the enterprise.
Plus, there’s a question about the data – namely, that there will be a lot of it needed to make IoT viable. Respondents agreed that information from IoT sensors was valuable, with 60 percent stating that it “provides significant insights, such as data on customer demographics or shopping patterns.” But an almost equal number – 54 percent – claimed that companies used 10 percent or less of this information, the McKinsey team adds.
Demonstrating return on investment is also seen as a current weak spot in IoT, as cited by 53 percent of the respondents to the Canonical survey. Another 45 percent worry about security, and, tellingly, 40 percent say lack of infrastructure is holding them back. Plus, the survey’s authors say the “Internet of Talent” also needs to be strengthened. (My colleague Louis Columbus provides more details on these findings.)
As IoT scales to the enterprise, there will be a need to evaluate and be proactive in engaging organizational capabilities and change-management programs, the report’s authors continue. They are optimistic, however, that IoT will begin to shine as its proponents learn to evangelize, energize and expand their efforts. ”We are also optimistic that more companies will make a greater effort to incorporate enterprise IoT into their daily operations as its benefits become clearer,” they add, citing the example of Boeing workers, who “now use IoT wearables and augmented-reality tools on wiring-harness assembly lines, which has resulted in up to 25 percent improvement in productivity.”
Nevertheless, executives are extremely positive about IoT. Most, 92 percent, feel IoTification would have a positive impact over the next three years, “either by improving operations or by allowing companies to develop new products with embedded IoT capabilities.” In addition, 62 percent expect IoT will mean transformation for their enterprises. And that’s where the story really begins.