Lessons From IoT Early Adopters

Early adopters of IoT are working through the challenges of implementation to deliver compelling business value.

A power company might consider meter readings to be data that does not require protection against disclosure. However, if the customer is a manufacturer, its power consumption may correlate to production. Someone could use the information as insider insights on the manufacturer’s financial performance, and suddenly mundane meter readings are transformed into valuable insider stock insights.

The lesson? Involve the lawyers early.

The Internet of Things (IoT) had a rougher start in some organizations than originally anticipated. However, there is evidence that, as IoT continues to mature, IoT adopters are getting better at extracting value.

IoT projects are more likely to succeed if the CIO is involved.

A Gartner survey found that 80% of organizations that have adopted IoT indicated they are achieving better-than-expected results from their IoT projects.

Nick Jones, distinguished VP, analyst at Gartner, says while the survey measured self-reported success, real benefits from IoT are now displacing the hype.

“What we found is that CIO involvement in IoT is critical – projects are more likely to succeed if they are involved,” says Jones.

Potential IoT pitfalls

Security and privacy topped the list of technical challenges faced by IoT projects. It will remain a challenge until 2025, according to Gartner, due to a lack of skilled staff, ever changing threats, a complex vendor landscape and immature standards.

“IoT is not just a technical problem to be solved,” says Jones. “To move IoT beyond the pilot phase, think proof of value, not proof of concept. Technical POCs do not convince executive leadership to spend money on IoT.”

Non-technical barriers to success include political and organizational issues, funding challenges and user experience with IoT sensors and devices. Workforce issues around changing practices is also a big issue. For example, a move to automated monitoring could trigger trade unions to get involved.

Large multinational enterprises face additional challenges, such as variations in the quality and availability of local infrastructure and communications services, multinational technical support across time zones, local regulations and cultural issues, for example, attitudes to robots or artificial intelligence.

Recommendations for success

Despite the many challenges, IoT is generally considered successful in organizations that have implemented it. Gartner’s 2018 survey showed that a majority of organizations currently implementing or using IoT said that their projects had met or exceeded planned outcomes, significantly better than the 2017 survey. However, success is self-defined and 29% of organizations surveyed didn’t define a payback period, so success would be challenging to measure.

Here are the top lessons Gartner identified from these early adopters of IoT.

  • Establish a Centre of Excellence. It’s a great forum to get all your stakeholders involved, manage risk and spread new capabilities throughout the organization.
  • Plan your infrastructure strategy early. You may need to upgrade wifi or network infrastructure.
  • Think about the payback period. Go for fast return on investment (ROI).
  • Create an ethics council. Involve the legal team early and train staff in digital ethics, algorithmic bias and privacy regulations.
  • Assess skills gaps. Define a resourcing plan and involve external partners if needed.
  • Have the CIO involved. It increases the likelihood of success.

“Success starts before the project,” says Jones. “Choose the right projects that support business goals using a strong innovation process. That gets rid of “vanity projects” without business value and forces you to think about how to scale the project.”

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Gartner clients can read more in Planning for the Onslaught of Endpoints — IoT, Wearables and More by Leif-Olof Wallin, Nick Jones and Sanjit Ganguli.

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