Despite the unprecedented opportunities promised by the Internet of Things (IoT), many IoT vendors are teetering at the top of Gartner’s hype cycle because they’re struggling to generate the sales they expected.
Although security concerns are generally considered the primary impediment to IoT deployments, I believe there are five more important contributors to the slower-than-expected adoption of IoT solutions. Here are the obstacles to near-term IoT growth.
The IoT term has generated a lot of debate and even confusion among corporate decision makers.
Many are fixated on the specific wording of the term and are uncomfortable about connecting their products and services to the public or consumer Web.
Others are unclear about what constitutes a “thing” and don’t understand the value of connecting things together.
And, many industry veterans are turned off by the suggestion that IoT is a new idea when the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) world has been well established for years.
All this confusion and debate about the meaning of the term only elongates the deliberations about how to pursue IoT opportunities.
IoT deployments require broad, cross-functional collaboration that demands breaking down organizational silos to a greater extent than any previous technological advancement.
In the past, acquiring a new round of computing capabilities generally fell on the shoulders of the IT department, and the new technology was simply used to support a variety of internal business processes.
A well-rounded IoT strategy requires the involvement of every corporate department, from product design and manufacturing to embed connectedness into products and services, to the sales, marketing and support organizations to properly position, sell and service them.
Aligning the interests of all these functional areas so they can coordinate their efforts is a tough and time-consuming process.
Even if an organization can “herd the cats” and get all the corporate departments to agree to cooperate with each other, selecting the right path to IoT success is still a challenge.
As I discussed in a previous SandHill article, a well-regarded management view is that gaining a competitive advantage in a market segment typically involves becoming a leader in at least one of the following disciplines:
- Product innovation
- Operational efficiency
- Customer intimacy
Although the cloud is enabling a growing number of organizations to succeed in each of these disciplines, businesses must still prioritize their options to determine where to best focus their energy and money initially before moving on to the other areas.
IoT initiatives also can produce meaningful benefits in each of these three disciplines, but the appropriate tactics for properly deploying today’s IoT solutions will depend on an organization’s specific objectives.
IoT deployments require a broad set of hardware and software pieces extending from sensors to analytics and management systems.
It means selecting the right networks, data storage and computing systems, as well as on-premises versus cloud applications and services.
Since there isn’t a single vendor that can supply an end-to-end IoT solution, organizations must assemble their own IoT supply chain from an overwhelming assortment of piece-parts.
Because the IoT idea is relatively new, most organizations lack the internal skills and experience to initiate and administer IoT deployments and ongoing operations.
This is a truism of every new technology wave; talent always lags behind technological innovation.
In the case of IoT, the right talent will possess a combination of technological knowledge and business acumen to understand how to apply IoT solutions to industry-specific use cases.
Bottom line: Until organizations can overcome these obstacles, the pace of IoT deployment will continue to be slower than IoT technology suppliers and solution vendors would like.
Jeffrey Kaplan is the managing director of THINKstrategies, founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace and host of the Connected Cloud Summit executive forum series. He can be reached at email@example.com.