Ninety percent of enterprises will increase their spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2017, according to a report by 451 Research.
More specifically, these organizations expect to increase their IoT investments by 33 percent. Initial deployments will focus on data analytics and security, with particular attention on data collection and analysis, monitoring the reliability of line-of-business servers and applications, and monitoring the efficiency of specific business operations and departments.
That’s a stark contrast to just a short time ago, when the No. 1 reason to gather and use IoT data was to reduce risk and for security and compliance, according to Laura DiDio, research director at 451 Research. “Everybody has to deal with compliance and security, irrespective of the size of the company or the vertical market,” she says. “What was a very close second was optimizing operations, and that could be on a daily basis.
“Now, optimizing operations has [narrowly] become number one. Reducing risk, security, compliance, and then optimizing operations are pretty much neck-and-neck,” she states.
The survey, which involved 1,000 IT buyers around the world, also found that a significant portion of IoT transitions are occurring organically. Organizations’ IT systems, networks, and infrastructures are progressively incorporating more elements of the IoT, such as cameras, motherboards, and routers.
The study also found that 42 percent of enterprises use IoT data to develop new products and services or to enhance existing ones.
But increasingly, companies also want to “progressively and proactively start enhancing customer targeting, finding out more about their customers, their business partners, their suppliers, so that they can not only increase sales but also drive customer retention and improve customer satisfaction,” DiDio explains.
In the process, the IoT has moved to more mainstream adoption and deployment. IoT is now “starting to really drive use cases,” she says.
But the process of adopting IoT devices is not without risks and challenges. Half of all respondents cited security as the top impediment to IoT deployments, and 46 percent said they are having difficulty finding personnel to fill IoT-related positions, particularly those related to data analytics and security.
The concern is justified, according to DiDio. “You’ve got a lot more moving parts and components,” she says. “The biggest threat to IoT security these days is careless end users. You can put up all the best defenses at the perimeter, the data center, etc., only to have it all undone if some careless end user who has access to a lot of your significant data assets doesn’t secure something.”
Today’s business environment is very different from those of the 1980s and ’90s, when IT departments had greater control. “They could say, ‘Hey, you’re using our devices, we don’t want you going on X, Y, and Z sites. We don’t want you downloading external [software] or loading any of your own applications onto our network.’ That doesn’t fly anymore in the digital age, where everybody is mobile and remote,” DiDio concludes. “Security [for IoT devices] is going to be tough.”