Trucks at Work

Is the Internet of Things finally poised to go mainstream?

I’ve previously discussed in this space how the “Internet of Things” (IoT)is poised to radically reshape the business world – especially when it comes to logistics and trucking operations.

Now a new survey by noted technology research firm Gartner Inc. indicates 2016 may be the “tipping point” for the IoT in terms of it becoming “mainstream technology” across the globe.

In that report – given the unwieldy title Survey Analysis: Early Adopters of Internet of Things Poised to Make 2016 the Year of the Customer – the firm argues that the IoT will move toward “mainstream adoption” in 2016 for many industries, especially manufacturing.

Although less than a third (29%) of the 465 companies polled by Gartner said they are currently using IoT, an additional 14% are planning to implement it over the next 12 months, with an additional 21% planning to implement after 2016.

In other words, explained Chet Geschickter, research director at Gartner, the number of organizations adopting IoT will grow 50% this year, reaching 43% of organizations overall while in aggregate, the majority of organizations (64%) plan to eventually implement IoT.

However, he stressed it is important to note that another 38 % have no plans to implement IoT, including 9% that see no relevance whatsoever in IoT technologies.

"While there is near universal acceptance of the importance of the IoT, less than a third of organizations surveyed were actively exploiting it," Geschickter added.

"This is largely because of two reasons. The first hurdles are business-related. Many organizations have yet to establish a clear picture of what benefits the IoT can deliver, or have not yet invested the time to develop ideas for how to apply IoT to their business,” he pointed out. “The second hurdles are the organizations themselves [as] many of the survey participants have insufficient expertise and staffing for IoT and lack clear leadership.”

To date, the primary business case for IoT is internally focused, according to Jim Tully (at right), VP of research at Gartner; namely improved efficiencies, cost savings and enhanced asset utilization (52% of total) versus the externally facing IoT benefits of enhancing customer experience or increasing revenue (40%).

“However, we are poised for a marked shift in focus toward customer-facing benefits for planned IoT implementations; positioning IoT as a key competitive marketplace weapon going forward,” he stressed.

“The survey shows a dramatic jump in focus on customer experience, doubling in nominal terms from 18% to 34%,” Tully noted. “This indicates that we can expect a much higher IoT focus on end customers during the next 12 months.”

This won’t occur, though, without some challenges. Indeed, Gartner found in its survey that the biggest IoT technology challenges for those companies that have already implemented IoT are cybersecurity, integration and managing business requirements. Orchestration of workflows and processes also loom as major concerns for those planning to implement IoT, Geschickter added.

"This year, 2016, will be a very big year for IoT adoption,” he stressed. “We are starting to see a wide range of IoT use cases across virtually all industries. But the big challenge now is demonstrating return on investment. Executives need to validate the contribution that IoT can make in order to justify large-scale rollouts.”

We’ll see how the logistics and trucking industries handle their rollouts when that time comes.

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