Manufacturers ‘failing to invest in IoT’

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one field where many UK manufacturers could be investing more, research has suggested.

Business software provider SAP conducted a survey of 100 senior executives in the manufacturing sector, around a fifth (19 per cent) of whom expected no investment in IoT technologies this year.

As a proportion of overall IT spend, average anticipated investment in these innovations was only eight per cent.

This low level of financial backing for IoT tech and platforms is not the result of a lack of confidence in this burgeoning field, with just over half (51 per cent) of the respondents to the SAP survey saying it could help them cut costs.

Nearly four out of ten manufacturing executives (38 per cent) thought IoT could help their business with product development.

Despite the relatively low level of projected investment, Nayaki Nayyar, general manager and head of IoT Go to Market for SAP, said it was encouraging that businesses recognise how technology can deliver improved insights, proactive measures and better outcomes.

She said IoT is set to have a "major impact" on the manufacturing sector in particular.

"Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things can enable end-to-end transformation for manufacturing companies and connect the shop floor to the top floor, optimising supply chains and manufacturing operations and ultimately helping them stay competitive," added Ms Nayyar.

Nearly a third (30 per cent) of the manufacturing firms surveyed by SAP identified procurement and supply chain management as areas that could benefit from growth in IoT.

This point was also made in the UK Logistics Confidence Index for the first half of 2016 from Barclays, Moore Stephens and Analytiqa, which was based on the opinions and insights of over 100 chief executives, managing directors and finance directors from the logistics sector.

Nearly six out of ten respondents (58 per cent) said they would be implementing innovative supply chain solutions over the next 12 months. Within this group, 18 per cent of decision makers were set to focus their efforts on IoT.

However, at the top of the list of technologies set to improve supply chain management over the coming year was big data and analytics, cited by 27 per cent of respondents, followed by automation (21 per cent) and cloud computing (21 per cent).

Publishing their findings, the report authors noted that many companies still have a long way to go before they can properly grasp and realise the potential of the latest technologies.

"Some industry observers suggest companies may still be at the beginning of a journey to fully understand the potential solutions that can be developed from the real-time data that is starting to be generated by the IoT," they said.

Last November, Gartner released a report predicting that the number of connected 'things' in use across the globe will reach 6.4 billion this year, up 30 per cent from 2015.

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