Internet of things, IoT device, cybersecurity

TWiTIoT: This Week in The Internet of Things – IoT Growth Slow in Manufacturing, Rapid in Retail

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Greetings, and welcome. This week, a survey finds manufacturers largely unready for the IoT, while research from multiple sources paints a far more optimistic picture of IoT in retail. As always, your thoughts, reactions, and suggestions welcome. Just send a quick email to medortch@dortchonit.com. And for more on the IoT and IIoT, check out “DortchOnIT’s Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Weekly.” Thanks.

Survey: Manufacturers Not Adopting, Don’t Understand, and Are Threatened by IoT

What Happened:Professional services firm Sikich LLP released its 2018 Manufacturing Report. While the report’s subtitle is “The Industry 4.0 Factor,” the contents portray an industry largely unready to adopt the digital technologies associated with that currently popular term.

  • According to a Sikich news release, the report is based on a survey of “more than 200 respondents” from multiple industrial sectors. Represented industries include “metal fabrication, industrial equipment, food and beverage, OEM equipment, chemicals and petroleum, automotive, plastics, and wholesale/distribution.”
  • “Sikich found that fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed currently use internet of things technologies. Further, 30 percent said they have no clear understanding of the internet of things.”
  • IoT technologies are not the only ones surveyed manufacturers aren’t using. “The report also found that nearly 40 percent of respondents don’t use robotics for any of their operations.” This despite respondents citing “a ‘lack of qualified workers’ as a top barrier to growth.”
  • The survey respondents are not confident about their cybersecurity, either. “Though more than three-fourths of respondents said they had not experienced a cybersecurity incident in the last 12-18 months, only 19 percent of respondents say they are ‘very ready’ to address cybersecurity risk. Sixty-three percent of respondents believe they are only ‘somewhat ready.’”

What It Means:A partner at Sikich said cybersecurity threats “will only increase as technology becomes even more integrated into manufacturing operations.” “That’s especially true given the rapid adoption of IoT devices,” the partner added. Manufacturing companies may be slow to adopt IoT devices into their operations. But their employees are connecting smart speakers, fitness trackers, connected kitchen appliances, and other IoT devices to their networks. In many cases, those devices are woefully insecure, and IT teams at those companies doesn’t even know they’re on the network. Yet.

What You Should Do:If you work at a manufacturing company, do what you can to get your IT and cybersecurity people talking with your supply chain and operations folks, soon and often. Your company needs to have adequate, IoT-ready cybersecurity measures in place before your network is attacked via an unsecured, undocumented IoT device connection. Your company also needs to be ready to take advantage of relevant IoT-powered solutions rapidly and securely as they become available. (See “TWiTIoT: This Week in The Internet of Things – Every IoT Device A Security Risk?” and (from 2015!) “Is IT Ready for the IoT at Your Enterprise?”)

If you make or sell IoT or cybersecurity solutions to manufacturing companies, do what you can to encourage the conversations recommended above. You’ll end up with happier, higher-value clients and a better reputation for your company.

Surveys: Retail Buys into IoT

What Happened:A number of research surveys indicate that the retail industry is adopting IoT technologies assertively. This trend appears poised to continue for at least the next several years.

  • As RetailDive reported, a new report from Grand View Research projects that the “worldwide market for Internet of Things hardware for retail applications — including sensors, RFID tags, beacons and wearables — is expected to be worth more than $94 billion by 2025.” “That figure translates to a compound annual growth rate of about 21.5% for the years between 2016 and 2025.”
  • Much of that growth “can be attributed to the “merging of digital and in-store operations in retail stores.” For example, retailers use so-called beacons “to boost in-store experience and send customers promotional offers and messages.” “The beacons portion of the IoT market alone is expected to experience an annual growth rate of more than 23% between 2016 and 2025.”
  • “While actual project size for some retailers may only involve a handful of stores, or just one aspect of store operations, others are making bigger commitments. For example, Walmart already has deployed IoT sensors in refrigeration units in 5,000 stores to detect food spoilage, and has more extensive plans to use IoT to track customers’ shopping behavior.” Other retail IoT use cases include “improving inventory accuracy and management, making [retailers’] supply chains more efficient, [and] improving their record against theft and other losses.”
  • The Grand View Research report is not the only source of optimism about retail IoT adoption. “Transparency Market Research recently said the IoT-based connected retail market could be worth more than $82 billion by 2025. Also, at the end of last year, Aruba Networks estimated that at least half of retail organizations worldwide had adopted IoT to one extent or another — though some of those deployments may have been small. Additionally, 80% of retailers have allocated budget to spend on IoT and similar technologies, according to other recent research from IDC.”

What It Means: Retailers are loath to invest in things that don’t deliver cost savings, higher sales, or other obvious business benefits. Their successes with predecessor technologies, notably radio frequency identification (RFID), have provided both experiences and proven processes they are now using to evaluate and implement IoT solutions effectively.

What You Should Do: If you’re in retail, and your organization isn’t already looking for ways to exploit IoT technologies, it should be. Look first for successful RFID or IoT sensor deployments that may already be in place. If you find any, build upon these, always keeping cybersecurity in mind. If you don’t find any, look for promising test case candidates, and start talking with your IT, cybersecurity, and operations people about them. If you sell to retail, do whatever you can to foster and support these activities.

Shameless Self-Promotion (And an Opportunity for You)

On June 28, I have the honor of joining Rob Young, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Astoundand former lead IT service management (ITSM) analyst at IDC, for a webcast. We’ll be discussing the impact of AI and advanced automation on IT. I think it will be a lively and provocative 45 minutes.

You can read more about it and register to attend, live or on demand, at https://hubs.ly/H0cz33Q0. And if you’ve got thoughts to share on the subject, let me know, here or via email to me at medortch@dortchonit.com. I look forward to your thoughts — the best of which I’ll share during the event, with attribution if you permit it — and to your joining us for the webinar!

 

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Michael Dortch

As an IT industry analyst, consultant, journalist, and marketer, Michael Dortch has been translating bits and bytes into dollars and sense for four decades. His areas of expertise include strategic content planning, development, and creation, core content execution, and social media and online community development and outreach. Michael has helped to launch new products, enable sales teams, influence influencers, and grow web site traffic, prospects, leads, and positive perceptions for companies large and small. He also enjoys cooking, eating, traveling, and singing.