The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology that extends digital connectivity to devices and sensors in homes, businesses, vehicles and potentially almost anywhere. This advance enables virtually any device to transmit its data, to which analytics can then be applied to facilitate monitoring and a range of operational functions. IoT can deliver value in several ways. It can provide organizations with more complete data about their operations, which helps them improve efficiencies and so reduce costs. It also can deliver a competitive advantage by enabling them to reduce the elapsed time between an event occurring and operational responses, actions taken or decisions made in response to it.
IoT utilizes what Ventana Research calls operational intelligence, a discipline that has evolved from the capture and analysis of data from instrumentation and machine-to-machine interactions of many types. We define operational intelligence as a set of event-centered information and analysis processes operating across an organization that deliver information to enable effective actions and optimal decisions.
The evolution of operational intelligence and its manifestation in IoT is encouraging companies to revisit their priorities and spending for information and other digital technologies. Ventana Research undertook benchmark research on The Internet of Things to determine the attitudes, requirements and future plans of organizations that use IoT and operational intelligence systems and to identify their best practices. We set out to examine both the commonalities and the qualities specific to major industry sectors and across sizes of organizations. We considered how organizations manage IoT, issues they encounter in the process and how their use of it and related technology is evolving.
While the Internet of Things may still be a novelty to many consumers, organizations participating in our research are well aware of its applications and implications. Four out of five (81%) said IoT is important to their future operations. Majorities said the use of IoT is very important to speed the flow of information and improve the responsiveness of individuals within business processes (61%) and to speed the flow of information to customers or consumers (58%).
The most common uses of IoT are associated with customers (as in sensors on products, by 43%), employees (in wearable technology, 35%) and sensors on devices in the supply chain (31%). At this point, however, more organizations are able to capture IT events (such as a network or system security breach, 59%) than business events (such as a customer contact, 45%). As organizations find more business uses, IoT and operational intelligence will become even more mainstream, and the research indicates that this will occur. Within two years, 95 percent of organizations said they expect to be capturing IT events and 92 percent to be capturing business events.
The research also finds that the intentions of organizations to embrace IoT and use operational intelligence often outpace their current capabilities. For example, many can capture data but face challenges in using it. More than two-thirds (68%) said they are satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their organization’s ability to capture and correlate data from events. After that, managing and using it become more complicated. Nearly one-third (31% each) reported difficulties with inadequate data or in managing external data. About half (48%) said they spend the most time reviewing event data for quality and consistency issues, which suggests a lack of standardization across the data sources that are collected.
Furthermore, most organizations are not ready to derive maximum value from IoT. The processes most commonly implemented, each by approximately half of organizations, are performing root-cause analysis, defining measurements and metrics, and monitoring and correlating activities or events. While these processes are necessary, they are only the first step in improving performance. Fewer have advanced to the point of automating processes, which will be necessary to make full use of the coming deluge of IoT data. For example, only about two in five use data from events to trigger automated processes such as predictive maintenance (38%) or automatic assignment of thresholds for alerts (39%).
This research overall finds strong momentum behind the emergence of the Internet of Things, but it also is clear that many organizations have not caught up to the trend. IoT is here, and its impact on business will only increase; almost all companies can benefit from paying attention to it. We encourage you to use this research to help educate and guide your organization through its IoT journey.