A new global study ‘The Internet of Things: Today and Tomorrow’ published by Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, has revealed that IoT will soon be widespread as 85 percent of businesses plan to implement IoT technologies by 2019.
The increased adoption, according to the study, is driven by a need for innovation and business efficiency. While the analysis confirms the clear business benefits from investments in IoT, Aruba’s report also warned that connecting thousands of things to existing business networks has already resulted in security breaches for the majority of organisations.
The research surveyed 3,100 IT and business decision makers across 20 countries to evaluate the current state of IoT and its impact across different industries. The study shows that while virtually all business leaders (98 percent) have an understanding of IoT, many are unclear of the exact definition of IoT and what it means for their business.
In his new eBook ‘Making Sense of IoT,’ commissioned by Aruba, technology visionary Kevin Ashton, presented the following definition, “The ‘Internet of Things’ means sensors connected to the Internet and behaving in an Internet-like way by making open, ad hoc connections, sharing data freely and allowing unexpected applications, so computers can understand the world around them and become humanity’s nervous system.”
Examining the business benefits of IoT, Ashton found that the real-world benefits gained from IoT exceeded even the original expectations. This ‘expectations dividend’ is evident in two key performance areas: business efficiency and profitability.
As an example, only 16 percent of business leaders projected a large profit gain from their IoT investment, yet post-adoption, 32 percent of executives realised profit increases. Similarly, only 29 percent of executives expected their IoT strategies to result in business efficiency improvements, whereas actual results show that 46 percent experienced efficiency gains.
Ammar Enaya, Regional Director – Middle East and Turkey, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, said, “With the business benefits of IoT surpassing expectations, it’s no surprise that the business world will move towards mass adoption by 2019. But with many executives unsure of how to apply IoT to their business, those who succeed in implementing IoT are well positioned to gain a competitive advantage.”
Aruba’s research revealed varying levels of IoT maturity across different industry sectors.
For enterprises, over seven in ten (72 percent) have introduced IoT devices into the workplace. Indoor location-based services ranks as the second most promising use case to improve employee productivity, after remote monitoring. Twenty percent report remote operation of building lighting and temperature as a key use case, but that number more than doubles to 53 percent when asked about future IoT implementations.
In the industrial sector more than six in ten (62 percent) respondents in the industrial sector have already implemented IoT. Using IoT to monitor and maintain essential industrial functions was identified as the most impactful use case in the sector.
Today, the use of IP-based surveillance cameras for physical security within industrial organisations is still in its infancy, with only six percent having implemented it. However, when asked about future implementations, surveillance jumped five-fold to 32 percent.
Organisations in the healthcare sector have introduced IoT to improve patient monitoring, reduce cost and foster innovation. Coming in as the third most advanced in its implementation of IoT, 60 percent of healthcare organisations globally have introduced IoT devices into their facilities. Across the sector, 42 percent of executives rank monitoring and maintenance as the number one use of IoT—higher than all other sectors. This underscores the importance of IoT-enabled patient monitoring in the modern healthcare industry.
Meanwhile, 49 percent of retailers are using IoT technology, but 81 percent of these report improved customer experiences. An improved customer experience is likely to have a significant impact on customer loyalty and ultimately, revenue.
The study further revealed that government organisations are the slowest to adopt IoT, with only 42 percent of municipalities have deployed IoT devices and sensors. A third (35 percent) of IT decision makers claim their executives have little to no understanding of IoT, double the global average, suggesting that lack of education is the biggest barrier to mass adoption in this sector.
While nearly half (49 percent) of government IT departments are struggling with legacy technology, seven in ten IoT adopters in the public sector report cost savings and improved organisational visibility as the major benefits.
Alongside these positive returns, the study also uncovers a number of obstacles that IT leaders feel are preventing IoT from delivering greater business impact. In particular, the cost of implementation (50 percent), maintenance (44 percent) and integration of legacy technology (43 percent) were highlighted as key issues.
Most notably, security flaws were found across many IoT deployments. The study revealed that 84 percent of organisations have experienced an IoT-related security breach. More than half of respondents declared that external attacks are a key barrier to embracing and adopting an IoT strategy. This confirms that a holistic IoT security strategy, built on strong network access control and policy management, will not only protect enterprises but also simplify the security approach for IT.
The ability to capture and effectively use data is described by Ashton as “what defines the Internet of Things”, but this appears to be another clear challenge for global organisations. While nearly all (98 percent) of organisations that have adopted IoT claim that they can analyse data, almost all respondents (97 percent) feel there are challenges to creating value from this data. Well over a third (39 percent) of businesses are not extracting or analysing data within corporate networks, and are thereby missing out on insights that could improve business decisions.
“While IoT grows in deployment, scale and complexity, proper security methodologies to protect the network and devices, and more importantly, the data and insights they extract, must also keep pace” said Enaya. “If businesses do not take immediate steps to gain visibility and profile the IoT activities within their offices, they run the risk of exposure to potentially malicious activities. Aruba is enabling customers to rapidly assess IoT deployments within their facilities and determine any potential threats that may be present.”