Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, May 7, 2021

Tech Roadmaps, Leadership Still Needed for IoT 

Investments and acquisitions are coalescing around the thing called the Internet of Things, but those betting on the emerging domain as the next big thing have a long way to go in terms of forging technical roadmaps or viable business cases, according to the latest survey on attitudes toward the IoT.

Gartner found that more than 40 percent of the 463 IT executives it queried last fall expect the IoT to transform their business, generate new revenue or deliver significant cost savings over the next three years. That total jumped to 60 percent over the longer term, or five years.

The problem is the lack of a clear roadmap for moving IoT initiatives from the drawing board to production of services and revenues.

"The survey confirmed that the IoT is very immature, and many organizations have only just started experimenting with it," Nick Jones, Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst noted in a statement releasing the survey results this week.

"Only a small minority [of respondents] has deployed solutions in a production environment," Jones added. "However, the falling costs of networking and processing mean that there are few economic inhibitors to adding sensing and communications to products costing as little as a few tens of dollars.

"The real challenge of the IoT is less in making products 'smart' and more in understanding the business opportunities enabled by smart products and new ecosystems."

Along with networking and cloud computing, intelligent storage is one IT sector where investors have been putting their money where their mouths are. For example, Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers cited the rise of the IoT as one reason is plunked down $40 million on semi-stealth mode enterprise storage startup Qumulo Inc.

A pair of Kleiner Perkins partners who pushed the storage investment noted in a blog post that "the Internet of Things will account for ten percent of all data by 2020 as more of our devices get connected."

Noting the big data-driven shift from block storage to file and object storage, Kleiner Perkins partners Wen Hsieh and Creighton Hicks added: "Enterprises can’t just manage storage capacity anymore: They must manage data and the useful information derived from it. Building a storage solution that enables enterprises to do this as the amount of data grows exponentially is hard."

"That's why we invested in Qumulo," they concluded.

Some key members of the emerging IoT ecosystem have claimed early revenues from their IoT strategies. Intel Corp., for example, which rolled out its IoT platform in December, said it has generated about $2 billion in revenues over the past year from its nascent IoT business. The chipmaker did not, however, provide specific breakdowns.

Meanwhile, the Gartner survey found that less than one-quarter of respondents said their firms have established a single organizational unit to oversee IoT initiatives. "We expect that over the next three years, more organizations will establish clear leadership, and more will recognize the value of some form of an IoT center of excellence because of the need to master a wide range of new technologies and skills," noted Steve Kleyhans, Gartner's research vice president.

While the survey found that technology companies focusing on networking or cloud services had a better handle on where they are going with their IoT initiatives, the banking and insurance industries along with educational institutions and government agencies rated much lower in terms of their understanding of IoT.

Hence, the title of the Gartner survey: "The Internet of Things is a Revolution Waiting to Happen."

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