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IoT Signals Report Highlights Opportunities, Challenges in Enterprise IoT

Microsoft recently published a research report designed to provide what it calls a "global overview" of the IoT landscape. The inaugural IoT Signals report, released on July 30, polled more than 3,000 IoT decision makers worldwide in enterprise organizations engaged with IoT deployments. It illuminates a fast growing sector beset by key challenges.

Sam George is head of Azure IoT at Microsoft. He said that IoT is "transforming businesses in every industry," but cautioned that those gains are threatened by increasingly difficult issues.

"Our research shows that unlocking IoT's full potential requires the industry to address key challenges like the skills shortage, security concerns and solution complexity," he said.

In fact, about 30 percent of IoT projects were reported to fail at the proof-of-concept phase, while another 31 percent reported partial (or moderate) failure in the same phase. Complexity and technical challenges were identified as a top challenge by 38 percent of respondents. This was followed by lack of budget and staff resources (29 percent), lack of knowledge (29 percent), difficulty finding the right IoT solutions (28 percent) and security (19 percent).

The concern around security is interesting, in that 97 percent of respondents cited security as an issue at some level, which is hardly a surprise given incidents like the Urgent/11 zero-day vulnerability discovered in Wind River VxWorks-equipped IoT devices. The top security concerns cited included ensuring network-level security via strong user authentication (43 percent of respondents), tracking and managing each IoT device (38 percent) and securing endpoints for each IoT device (38 percent).

Staffing has emerged as a pain point as well, with nearly half of organizations saying there aren't enough skilled workers to support their deployments.

Making IoT Succeed

Given the technical complexity of IoT rollouts, it's no surprise that companies reporting success with IoT turned to IT leadership—chief information officers, chief technology officers, IT directors—to drive their IoT deployments. What's more, for companies with low success rates, lack of leadership buy-in was often cited as a reason for their struggles

The Signals report went on to identify seven key ingredients for success in IoT. They are:

  • Business strategy: Develop a clear understanding of the problems being addressed, the required investment and the expected return on that investment.
  • Leadership and organization: Establish executive sponsors to articulate vision, bridge organizational boundaries, and align teams.
  • Technology roadmap: Think long-term and lay out a plan for scaling IoT solutions. Involve leadership at proof-of-concept stage to spark the conversation about future-state technology needs.
  • Talent: There's not enough of it. Craft a strategy to acquire or build skills in the workforce. Focus on IoT architecture, data science, security, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Operations and core business processes: IoT is a game changer that requires a rethink of how things operate. Work to capture value from processes impacted by IoT, and be sure to involve front line staff.
  • Partnerships: Leverage the expertise of providers and partners to inform work around solutions integration, data sharing, industry compliance and more.
  • Security: IoT security must be addressed at every layer, from silicon to the cloud.

You can download the IoT Signals report from the Microsoft Web site.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.