Internet of Things: Are global firms winning on implementation?

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Aurra Kawanzaruwa
The idea around The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around longer than most people know. The simplest explanation of IoT is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other).

The concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first Internet-connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold.

However, only in 1999 did the field start gathering momentum. Bill Joy envisioned Device to Device (D2D) communication as part of his “Six Webs” framework, presented at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1999.

But with a concept that still seems, for the most part, futuristic, do companies really know how to implement this developmental thought model?

In a report released in the last quarter of 2017, Forbes Insights in association with Hitachi explored how companies are leveraging the IoT to move their businesses forward. The key findings of the research is founded on a survey of more than 500 senior executives around the world who are leading IoT initiatives within their companies. The report also focuses on commercial and industrial enterprises.

The key findings from the research helps to shed light on what has been termed the most overhyped of new wave technologies.

For starters, the IoT does impact business: Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of companies believe the IoT is important to their current business, and over 90 percent believe it will be important to the future of their business.

There was also a general consensus that of all emerging technologies, executives believe IoT will be the most important, ranking it above others such as artificial intelligence or robotics. More than half of respondents — 51 percent — also say their company has significant IoT programmes in operation or that these programs are a major contributor to their business. The other 49 percent remain in the early stages of IoT planning or are operating pilot programmes.

However, the truth of the matter became clear; implementing the IoT is challenging. When building out IoT capabilities, companies say their greatest challenges are the inability to present a compelling return on investment (32 percent), keeping the IoT secure (32 percent, cross-department cooperation (31 percent), integration of disparate data (30 percent) and availability of skilled staff (29 percent).

With this in mind, not all is lost. By examining companies whose IoT initiatives are meeting or exceeding expectations, there are key trends that have been identified in the way of best practices for implementing IoT-based solutions successfully.

These companies’ IoT efforts are typically championed by the CIO (53 percent), 66 percent include external vendors on their IoT planning team and 81 percent use a third-party platform as the basis for their IoT operations.

The moral of the story? Work with people who understand the technology. Zimbabwe is still a ways off when it comes to local companies implementing IoT-based solutions. In fact, to borrow from one of our minister’s sayings, it is still somewhat of a ‘utopian’ discussion. But there is no harm in preparing for the future and learning from the failures and successes of those forging their way through the 4th industrial revolution seas.

 

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