Survey: IoT progress has been slow but optimism remains

More than half of business leaders surveyed for the global Internet of Things Business Index 2017 said progress has not happened as quickly as expected.

More than half business leaders around the globe believe their organization's progress with the Internet of Things has not happened as fast as they expected, according to a new survey. Nevertheless, they still largely believe IoT will have a tremendous impact in the future.

As many as 24 percent of those surveyed said they "strongly agree" their progress has not happened as quickly as expected, according to the Internet of Things Business Index 2017, an Economist Intelligence Unit report, sponsored by ARM and IBM. Another 33 percent said they somewhat agree. Twenty-seven percent said they neither agree nor disagree, while just 10 percent said they somewhat disagree, and 2 percent strongly disagree.

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Even so, there is a "strong degree in belief of vision," Pete Swabey of the Economist Intelligence Unit told reporters on a conference call.

When asked about the impact of IoT, 21 percent said it's already had a major impact, while 32 percent said it's had a limited impact but will have major impact in the future. Another 12 percent said it's had no impact so far but will have a major impact in the future.

The remaining respondents were more pessimistic: 20 percent said it's had limited impact so far and will have a limited impact in the future. Nine percent said it's had no impact so far and will have a limited in the future.

The study, conducted in September 2016, surveyed 825 senior business leaders, including 412 C-level executives or board members. Thirty percent were based in Europe, 30 percent in North America, 30 percent in Asia-Pacific and the remaining 10 percent were in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

The survey spanned leaders from 10 industries, including financial services; manufacturing; healthcare, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; IT and technology; energy and natural resources; construction and real estate; automotive; infrastructure; and outsourced facilities management.

When it comes to the use of IoT in products or services, the plurality of business leaders surveyed, 35 percent, said they were in the research stage. As many as 21 percent said their organization was using no IoT at all, while another 21 percent said they were past the research stage and into planning. Fourteen percent were into implementation, while 8 percent said they were extensively using it.

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Results were similar when business leaders were asked about their internal use of IoT. The plurality, 37 percent were in the research stage. Twenty-one percent said they were not using it all, 22 percent were in the planning stage, 15 percent were in implemetation and 6 percent were using it extensively.

Those figures, when compared with the results of the 2013 Internet of Things Business Index, show IoT adoption has advanced slightly globally. However, in the US, internal adoption is actually down slightly.

"It does suggest some companies that were, back in 2013, examining the prospects of IoT may have decided it's not for them," Swabey said. He noted that energy efficiency has been a key driver for IoT adoption, so falling oil prices may have taken interest in IoT down a notch.

The chief obstacle to using IoT, respondents said, is the high cost of required investment in infrastructure - 29 percent said so. Another 26 percent cited security and privacy concerns, while 23 percent named a lack of knowledge or commitment from senior management.

While there are real concerns, "that's balanced with the fact people still are investing and see real money to be made, whether it's saved on operational costs or new revenues," said ARM CTO Mike Muller.

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When asked where in their organization IoT has had the greatest impact so far, 25 percent of respondents said it has sparked a new wave of innovation thanks to data that provided better insights. Another 22 percent said it's unlocked new revenue opportunities from existing products or services. Twenty percent said it changed their business model or strategy.

Meanwhile, when asked about the parts of the business that have seen the most positive impact so far, 38 percent said data management and analysis. Another 29 percent said products and services, while 27 percent said technology infrastructure management.

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