ROI (Not Security) the Most Immediate IoT Challenge

Friday Jul 21st 2017 by Pedro Hernandez
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While security is a major concern, professionals are having a tougher time making a financial case for Internet of Things, finds a new study from Canonical.

Security isn't the only aspect of Internet of Things (IoT) deployments that enterprises are second-guessing.

According to Defining IoT Business Models, a new report from Canonical, the software company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, device security and privacy (45 percent) falls behind quantifying the return of investment (ROI) of their IoT projects (53 percent) as an immediate challenge. Canonical drew its conclusions from a survey of 361 IoT professionals conducted by IoTNow on behalf of the company.

"The early Internet of Things was something of a gold rush, with vendors and developers jumping in to secure their share of an exciting and rapidly growing new market," remarked Mike Bell, executive vice president of IoT and Devices at Canonical, in a statement. "Unfortunately, many of these businesses simply didn't understand or evaluate how the IoT was going to deliver value – and apparently – the majority still don't."

Efforts to monetize the IoT are shifting from device sales to creating software-defined business models, noted the Canonical executive. He cites the rise of IoT app stores as evidence that software can help unlock the value of the IoT, enabling enterprises and consumers alike to access cutting-edge functionality without investing in new hardware.

Most vendors (78 percent) expect to make money on the IoT by providing maintenance and value-added services. Others expect to draw revenue from a hardware rental model (57 percent), one-off hardware sales (55 percent) and ongoing security and software fees (55 percent).

Following nebulous ROI and unconvincing security, a lack of IoT infrastructure (40 percent) is also stymieing IoT projects. A lack of budget was cited as an immediate challenge by over a third of respondents (34 percent). Integration work (29 percent), device management (26 percent) and resistance from skeptical contingents within their organizations (25 percent) also posed challenges.

In terms of hiring, 68 percent of those polled said they were struggling to find workers skilled in the IoT. Roles in big data and analytics are the toughest to fill (35 percent), followed closely by embedded software development (33 percent), embedded electronics (32 percent) and IT security (31 percent).

On a more optimistic note, 26 percent of respondents said the IoT cloud improve quality of life.

Twenty-five percent expect to derive greater insights into their businesses and another 25 percent said it could lead to entirely new services and product categories. Eighteen percent said the IoT could potentially reduce their operating costs while another four percent expect it to help reduce capital expenditures.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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