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Three-quarters of IoT projects are failing


Cisco also announced its new IoT Threat Defence security solution which segments devices on the network

Cisco study found that the human factor and strong leadership are critical to IoT projects
Cisco study found that the human factor and strong leadership are critical to IoT projects

A new study released by Cisco at its Internet of Things World Forum 2017 (IoTWF) in London this week revealed that 60 per cent of IoT initiatives stall at the proof of concept (PoC) stage. Only 26 per cent of companies have had an IoT initiative that they considered a complete success, while a third of all completed projects were not considered a success.


“It’s not for lack of trying,” said Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager, IoT and applications, Cisco. “But there are plenty of things we can do to get more projects out of pilot and to complete success, and that’s what we’re here in London to do.”

Cisco surveyed 1,845 IT and business decision-makers in the United States, UK, and India across a range of industries -- manufacturing, local government, retail/hospitality/sports, energy (utilities/oil & gas/mining), transportation, and health care.


All respondents worked for organisations that are implementing and/or have completed IoT initiatives. All were involved in the overall strategy or direction of at least one of their organisation’s IoT initiatives. The goal was to gain insight into both the successes as well as the challenges that are impacting progress.


Key findings included:


The “human factor” matters: IoT may sound like it is all about technology, but human factors like culture, organisation, and leadership are critical. In fact, three of the four top factors behind successful IoT projects had to do with people and relationships. Collaboration between IT and the business side was the number one factor, cited by 54 per cent. A technology-focused culture, stemming from top-down leadership and executive sponsorship, was called key by 49 per cent. IoT expertise, whether internal or through external partnership, was selected by 48 percent.

In addition, organisations with the most successful IoT initiatives leveraged ecosystem partnerships most widely. They used partners at every phase, from strategic planning to data analytics after rollout.

Don’t go it alone. Sixty percent of respondents stressed that IoT initiatives often look good on paper but prove much more difficult than anyone expected. Top five challenges across all stages of implementation: time to completion, limited internal expertise, quality of data, integration across teams, and budget overruns. Our study found that the most successful organizations engage the IoT partner ecosystem at every stage, implying that strong partnerships throughout the process can smooth out the learning curve.

“We are seeing new IoT innovations almost every day,” said Inbar Lasser-Raab, VP of Cisco Enterprise Solutions Marketing. “We are connecting things that we never thought would be connected, creating incredible new value to industries. But where we see most of the opportunity, is where we partner with other vendors and create solutions that are not only connected but also share data. That shared data is the basis of a network of industries – sharing of insights to make tremendous gains for business and society, because no one company can solve this alone.”


Reap the benefits: When critical success factors come together, organisations are in position to reap a windfall in smart-data insights. Seventy-three percent of all participants are using data from IoT completed projects to improve their business.


Globally the top three benefits of IoT include improved customer satisfaction (70 per cent), operational efficiencies (67 per cent) and improved product/service quality (66 per cent). In addition, improved profitability was the top unexpected benefit (39 per cent).


Learn from the failures: Taking on these IoT projects has led to another unexpected benefit: 64 percent agreed that learnings from stalled or failed IoT initiatives have helped accelerate their organisation’s investment in IoT.

Despite the challenges, many are optimistic for the future of IoT: 61 per cent believe that we have barely begun to scratch the surface of what IoT technologies can do for their businesses.


The Cisco IoT World Forum, where the company presented the findings of the survey, brings together industry leaders from around the world to share knowledge and thought leadership on accelerating the IoT. In his opening address, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins talked about the drive towards digital transformation that is taking place in companies, cities and countries around the world. "Everything is more complicated than it has ever has been," he said, adding that we have to "move faster" show "greater agility" and fundamentally change "how we think."


Robbins also announced the introduction of Cisco’s new IoT Threat Defence security solution. The architectural and services solution segments devices on the network to provide protection for organisations at IoT scale. The first use of the solution is to secure vital services in advanced medical care, power generation and delivery and automated manufacturing.


Cisco’s view is that the logical approach is to segment devices to put them out of an attacker’s reach. If a device is compromised, an organisation can then prevent it from being used as a pivot point to move through the network and activate its incident response processes.


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