IoT expected to transform business operations

More than four out of ten organisations believe Internet of Things (IoT) technologies with have a transformative impact on their business in the next three years, a new survey has revealed.

Research by Gartner found the solutions have the potential to generate significant new revenue or provide large cost-saving opportunities in the short term. In the longer term (the coming five years), some 60 per cent of respondents agreed the IoT will be able to deliver on their goals.

But this will be dependent on firms developing clear business or technical leadership for their efforts – something Gartner said is yet to happen in many cases.

One of the biggest challenges for many companies when it comes to the Internet of Things will be dealing with the large amount of data the technology is set to generate – and turning this into useful insight therefore needs to play a key role in business' plans.

For instance, utilities firms may be able to use data gathered from smart meters to give them much clearer information on how and when their customers are using energy. With the right tools in place, this can help inform their decision-making and make how they generate and deliver power much more efficient.

Elsewhere, insurance firms are increasingly using solutions such as telematics to give them a better picture of their customers, which is expected to be reflected in more personalised quotes in the coming years.

But in order to see these types of results, companies will need to improve their understanding of the technology. Gartner vice-president and distinguished analyst Nick Jones said the survey shows IoT is currently very immature, and many organisations are still only in the early stages of experimentation.

"Only a small minority have deployed solutions in a production environment," he said. "However, the falling costs of networking and processing mean that there are few economic inhibitors to adding sensing and communications to products costing as little as a few tens of dollars."

The real challenge for IoT deployments will be less in making products 'smart' through the addition of such sensors, but in understanding the business opportunities that will be enabled by these new ecosystems.

One key measure of how well companies are prepared for IoT will be if they have identified who will provide technical and business leadership for their efforts. Less than a quarter of firms have established clear leadership for this, either through a single organisational unit that takes ownership of the issue, or multiple business units handling separate IoT efforts. 

"Organisations need executives and staff to understand the potential of the IoT if they're going to invest in it," explained Steve Kleynhans, research vice-president at Gartner. "While a single leader for the IoT is not essential, leadership and vision are important, even in the form of several leaders from different business units."