The internet of things is taking the world by storm, with analysts predicting huge things for the uptake of the technology, particularly across the enterprise. Persistence Market Research forecasts the worldwide IoT market will be worth more than $260 billion by 2025, highlighting that IoT is showing no signs of slowing. Yet, despite the huge business opportunity that IoT presents, recent research from Cisco illustrates how decision-makers must remain objectives-focused when joining the movement; 60% of IoT initiatives stall at the proof-of-concept stage and only 26% of companies have had an IoT initiative that they considered a complete success.
For some in the industry, this could make worrying reading. IoT technology was conceived with the idea of improving business efficiency and driving value for adopters; however, the research seems to indicate that this intention is not yet being fully realized by all. If IoT deployments are not providing businesses with the value they set out to, the growth rate of IoT is surely at risk, with enterprises becoming increasingly wary of investing in IoT as a result.
The reality is that businesses should not fear IoT investment. All the promised benefits, from increased efficiency to additional insight, are there, and are something that businesses should absolutely take advantage of. However, it is critical that when venturing into the world of IoT, businesses and the technology vendors they partner with take the right approach to ensure the long-term success of their project. This means taking a “business first” rather than “technology first” approach.
There is a requirement for a mindset shift across the entire IoT industry that makes “why?” the first and most important question when defining an IoT deployment. Too often the purpose of an IoT project is defined by the capabilities of the technology; however, just because a business can achieve something with the project doesn’t necessarily mean they should.
Take the IoT systems that involve a rip-and-replace model as an example. For industries such as food retail, there is the opportunity to reap significant benefits and efficiencies from adopting IoT, but a fast-moving environment, low-margin consumer goods and a high cost of infrastructure means a rip-and-replace solution to extracting data is simply not tenable.
Closing stores or suspending operations run the risk of jeopardizing customer experience, customer loyalty and brand image, undermining the potential business value of the technology. As demonstrated by the Cisco findings, the value of IoT must be apparent quickly, with minimal downtime, or the project will quickly fall by the wayside. This ability to release value at a fast pace is fundamental in taking a business-first approach and accelerating the transition into digitization with low capital investment and high return on investment.
Instead of asking the question, “this is the technology, what problems can it address?”, stakeholders should instead consider, “this is the greatest issue, how can technology help?” Businesses continuously face multiple challenges, but it takes real insight and understanding of an organization and an industry to understand which technology applied to which area will have the biggest impact on core purpose and, if addressed, offers the greatest reward.
The IoT market is predicted to continue to explode over the next 10 years, and for the industry to remain on this trajectory, it is essential that businesses and vendors alike consider this business-first approach. Vendors must work with businesses to deliver sustainable, truly valuable IoT deployments that offer scalability, rapid deployment and quick ROI. These proven, repeatable projects that are able to make it beyond pilot stage will allow the internet of things to reach its full potential.
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