Big Data Analytics / Software

Is your team ready to benefit from the Internet of Things?

Thomas Wilk says all aboard the IoT train.

By Thomas Wilk, chief editor

Study after study is showing that the buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT) is real, and a new research report from Forrester Research turns the IoT spotlight on the manufacturing sector.

For this study, which was sponsored by Zebra Technologies, Forrester surveyed decision makers from nearly 600 global firms to understand trends regarding IoT adoption, implementation, and deployment trends.

The results show overwhelming manufacturing support for the adoption and implementation of IoT technologies: 97 percent of respondents consider the Internet of Things (IoT) to be one of the most impactful technological initiatives in their industry.

Furthermore, 83 percent of respondents either already have IoT implementations in place or plans to deploy within a year, and a whopping 87 percent said that their team or department was ready to make necessary changes to implement IoT solutions.

When asked what the top internal barriers to adopting IoT, respondents ranked "total cost concerns" and "privacy/security concerns" No. 1 and No. 2, suggesting a high level of concern over the ability to control risk in these two areas. Interestingly, "lack of executive support", "lack of a business case", and "unclear value proposition" all ranked at the lower end. It seems that, internally, the opportunity value of the IoT is clear to manufacturing executives.

These results raise another important question: which teams responded to the survey?

For this study, 67% of the respondents indicated they worked in an IT department, along with 14% from engineering, 9% from operations, and 8% from product development.

In other words, important discussions and decisions regarding IoT implementation either are taking place at manufacturing companies, or already have taken place.

I had the chance recently to speak with Jim Hilton, senior director and global manufacturing principal for Zebra Technologies, on whether he thought results would have been different in any specific area if more maintenance and reliability or operations teams had responded.

"Coming from the operations side of the enterprise, I feel most questions would be answered differently between those two perspectives," he said. "Most specifically, the areas around adoption plans, readiness, and resource capabilities would likely have a different result. IoT also takes on a very different meaning depending on the sophistication of the production process, the complexity of the enterprise (number of plants sharing production) or the technology in use."

When asked if he thought that smart instruments would change maintenance practices as quickly as operational practices, Hilton said absolutely. "HMI, M2M, and secure/remote visibility will most certainly raise the ability to re-think maintenance practices," he added. "Reactive will become preventative then predictive. The quicker an operation can progress to productivity functionality, the quicker the return benefits will be realized."

Check out the summary infographic, and consider how well you and your team are aligned with others in your organization to take advantage of the IoT to drive maintenance and reliability benefits.