IoT education needed to secure meaningful results for enterprise customers
Internet of things technologies have become a significant focus of C-suite executives and IT departments in nearly every industry, but a new study from Longview IoT suggests enterprise customers are still grappling with the long-term benefits of wide deployment. The research firm, which falls under the umbrella of Carnegie Technologies, found that many organizations require additional education to understand the specific operational benefits that IoT deployments can secure. While most key decision makers recognize the value of connected technologies to improve workflows and supply chains, solve business problems and control overhead costs, many are uncertain about how continued investment will help them achieve their implementation goals and financial benchmarks.
Despite the overwhelming optimism currently fueling IoT integration, some organizations are at a complete standstill concerning which solutions to utilize and where to obtain enterprise-class technologies. While there is no shortage of IoT manufacturers and vendors within the broader marketplace, many companies have expressed difficulties locating business partners that can help them implement and manage their tech investments. According to Longview IoT's report, around half of the organizations that have already deployed IoT solutions rely on their internal IT teams, many of which do have prior experience with embedded technology administration, to perform these vital functions. The demand for third-party experts who can plan, execute and oversee interconnected systems and devices will likely continue to grow as more companies seek concrete insight into the benefits and costs of IoT initiatives.
The state of enterprise IoT
Part of the confusion surrounding the future of IoT stems from the optimistic statistics touted by research firms, advocates and technology companies, such as Gartner's estimate that more than 20 billion internet-connected devices will be in use by 2020. While there is nothing inherently misleading about this figure, it's important to provide context for what constitutes a "thing" to ensure enterprise customers have realistic expectations about their investments. According to a 2017 report from Gartner, "things are not general-purpose devices, such as smartphones and PCs, but dedicated-function objects, such as vending machines, jet engines, connected cars and a myriad of other examples." This clarification illustrates that most IoT deployments will augment existing technologies, usually through embedded sensors. It's also important to note that Gartner's projected 20 billion devices includes consumer products, such as lighting fixtures, refrigerators and wearables.
In terms of commercial applications, Longview IoT found that close to 84% of the companies it surveyed had already implemented connected technologies or plan to within the next three years. Unsurprisingly, early adopters were more likely to have solved some of the business issues that IoT integration is meant to address and to have a practical understanding of the benefits of unified solutions. Researchers discovered that the manufacturing, healthcare and IT industries are currently leading the pack in terms of meaningful IoT utilization, though interest was relatively consistent between business sectors. Overall, only 3% of survey respondents dismissed IoT as an over-hyped solution.
The need for formative business outcomes
One of the biggest barriers to increased IoT deployment is the lack of consensus surrounding the exact outcomes enterprises should expect. While there are a variety of use cases that speak to potential impact of connected technologies, many organizations have remained cautious with their investments. According to Longview IoT's survey, most respondents (61%) admitted that they need to learn more about IoT and the operational value it offers before ramping up their IT spending. Even companies that have already implemented comprehensive solutions are unclear about the exact benefits they're hoping to stimulate. Most enterprise IoT applications are characterized by one or more of the following capabilities:
- Data analytics
- Cloud connectivity
- Real-time monitoring
- Predictive maintenance
- Inventory management
Leveraging IoT technologies requires significant infrastructural planning and a clear picture of the specific business problems companies are hoping to resolve, as a lack of foresight can lead to unnecessary spending and mismanagement. However, bridging the gap between perceived efficiency gains and the cost of deployment involves the sort of expertise that many organizations do not possess. This partially accounts for why third-party IoT consultants are in such high demand, as most business leaders want to secure meaningful improvements in a number of areas without a strong understanding of how IoT functions within real-world scenarios. Longview IoT's report found that most companies that have implemented connected technologies are looking for the following outcomes:
- Overall operational improvements (59%)
- Cost savings (48%)
- Better productivity (43%)
- Reduced downtime (41%)
- Improved worker and equipment tracking (37%)
While these implementation goals are possible to achieve with the right guidance, organizations across all industry verticals will need to continue learning about IoT tech to secure the long-term results they're looking for. For example, most large-scale applications rely on robust and scalable networking infrastructures to function reliably, making industrial-grade connectivity tools essential for their present and future deployments.
Perle offers high-performance networking equipment that can help organizations remain adaptable while they sort out their IT investment strategies. Read some of our customer stories to find out how we've helped other enterprises take full advantage of IoT systems.