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The Economist Intelligence Unit Says IoT Is On Business Leaders' Agendas

03/03/2017 15:28 GMT | Updated 03/03/2017 15:28 GMT

This week the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Internet of Things (IoT) Business Index 2017 announced its findings. Co-sponsored by ARM and IBM, the independent report shows the IoT has matured steadily over the past three years, since the inaugural Index was published, with companies moving from research and planning into early deployments. It also tells us that more than half of company executives now see the IoT as a key enabler of their company's long term success.

The efficiency, productivity, and cost savings benefits of the IoT have been widely reported. Yet, it has been difficult to get a full view of the IoT to truly understand how far businesses have progressed and whether they still believe it can deliver on its promises. The good news is that the report confirms IoT is gaining ground with a majority of C-suite leaders (55%), from a range of sectors including banking to health and energy to infrastructure, saying their companies expect to make cost savings as a result of IoT projects by 2020.

And, we are encouraged further by the fact that two-thirds of respondents reported their IoT strategy was discussed at Board level at least once a month. Business leaders really are closely looking at IoT investments and one in twelve are so advanced they already regard the IoT as integral to their operations.

So, where are we in relation to the adoption of IoT? We are still at the beginning of the IoT journey with the average company still in the planning stages. By comparing the findings from the first EIU report carried out in 2013, the survey tells us that most respondents feel their companies would have been further down the path to significant IoT rollouts by now. The survey gives us a clue as to why that is; emphasizing concerns over security and privacy, and the perception that IoT infrastructure is expensive to deploy and manage.

Security challenges need to be addressed by the industry as a whole. Only an ecosystem of partners can tackle the very real challenges of securing unprotected device networks. One way that the industry can start to jointly address this challenge is by making sure that there are enhanced security features in the hardware. This provides an extra layer of security for all embedded areas of the IoT and make it much harder for hackers to connect an unknown and insecure device to the network.

For that reason, the other insight we've gained is that a 'deploy and forget' mentality won't work in the IoT world. All devices must be managed over their lifetime so they can be updated to deal with new threats as they emerge.

So, have IoT projects advanced at all if most companies are still in the planning phases? Yes. We should still remain positive that while it is taking longer than expected for IoT projects to ripen, businesses are still trailing developments, and using development cycles to test and learn from their experiments. This is important: if we are to prevent hugely damaging security breaches, we must tackle these challenges thoroughly and ensure that security is baked into every development process.