Early IoT adopters struggle with data handling and change management  

The Internet of Things is rapidly becoming part of daily business operations across industries. A new study from SAS taps into early adopters’ hopes and challenges.  

The hype around IoT is not new and despite the interest for connected objects, only few companies have concrete successes to offer. But experiences and lessons learned from early adopters can be good starters for those who wonder how to make IoT a business opportunity.

A new research study from SAS, the leader in analytics, reveals some of the discoveries made by 75 large organizations who consider themselves ‘well on their way’ to integrating IoT into their operations. The respondents represent nine broad industry categories ranging from manufacturing to the public sector and 15 types of use cases, supporting the notion that IoT is widely applicable.

Getting closer to customers
So what are businesses using IoT to accomplice? About 20 percent named ‘connected customer’ initiatives as a top priority project, with auto-diagnostics (17%) and asset tracking (16%) as the runner-ups.
“Managers in business and public administration are acutely aware that in order to stay relevant to customers and citizens, they must provide tailored, just-in-time service. To do so requires that a lot of data analysis is done very fast,” says Mathias Coopmans, Business Development Manager at SAS.

Several benefits from the same initiative
Interestingly, many expected both customer benefits and operational benefits from specific IoT initiatives, expressed in the fact that ‘operational efficiency’ (43%) and ‘enhanced user experience’ (36%) topped the list of expectations in terms of outcome.
For example, one respondent pointed out that operational efficiency supports efforts to provide new or existing services - or perhaps combining them. The ability to use IoT insights to provide a more holistic view of business was an expressed goal by another respondent.

Technology and culture challenge equally
However, IoT implementation is challenging from both a technological and a management perspective. The top three challenges stated by participants illustrate this point: Real time data analytics (22%), security concerns (22%) and cultural change management (20%).
“To extract the full value of IoT implementations, work must be organized differently and processes reevaluated to support execution based on real-time data analysis. The sheer quantity of data and the effort to process them, expediently and with security as a top priority, makes for a challenging cocktail,” says Mathias Coopmans.

The skills gap is bridged with consultants
Meeting the combined challenges of technological and cultural change creates a need for new capabilities. Perhaps surprisingly, internal data scientist capabilities did not score in the top five, when respondents explained which skills they found most useful during the IoT implementation phase. Most mentioned collaboration with external consultants (15%) while process automation (13%) came in second. Collaboration with external consultants also reflects IoT is really crossing and dissolving industry borders, collaboration across different industries being key for success.
“Many managers realize that building internal capabilities will take time and that IoT development will not wait for businesses to mature their skill sets. However, it is important to set the long term strategy for how external “borrowed or bought” and internal people development should evolve,” says Mathias.

For more information or interview possibilities, please contact:
SAS Institute:
Per Hyldborg
Head of Marketing & Communications, Nordic Region
Mobile: +45 70 28 27 71
Email: per.hyldborg@sas.com

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