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What people are getting wrong about IoT: 10 industry experts weigh in

With Accenture forecasting that the industrial internet of things could add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030, IoT’s potential is massive, but many businesses still are wrestling with how it can benefit their organization and how to move forward.

Amid all the hype over IoT, it’s easy to forget that it’s still a new, emerging technology. Not everyone understands what it is and isn’t.

To get a snapshot on current thinking about IoT, we asked 10 industry experts the following question: In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception about IoT today?

Firstly, here are our thoughts: Some people assume that current governance models can cover the device, but IoT systems involve many different technologies with complex development cycles, and organizations need to take that into account. Many also assume that all device scenarios are predictable when, in fact, IoT is an iterative strategy of digitizing existing processes and developing new ones. Some organizations underestimate the importance of gaining executive understanding of the IoT business case. Executive support is so important in early IoT projects to align budgets and ensure continued corporate investment. Finally, just because you have data, it doesn’t mean it’s useful. You have to be able to analyze, interpret it and derive insights from it. Otherwise, there’s little point of having a wealth of data.

What we heard from other industry experts

“The internet of things is not new and it’s not necessarily smart; really it can be considered as an extension of machine-to-machine with internet connectivity. The biggest misconception is that IoT implies smart by default, but the reality is that it’s just aggregating data. ‘Smart’ only truly happens in IoT when that data is made available to other applications that can then use it in innovative ways to achieve intelligent things.”
– Simon Forrest, director of connectivity and connected home, Imagination Technologies

“Companies think they need to build the entire pipeline from sensor to cloud in order to participate in the IoT transformation. That is the 1999 equivalent of building data centers so you can host your own website. In other words, companies often confuse how their products create differentiating value and waste time and resources building infrastructure when they should be developing algorithms, go-to-market plans and business relationships.”
– Justin Rigling, CTO, Rigado

“IoT is a means, not an end. Like the internet or mobile before it, IoT is best viewed as an underlying technology infrastructure that supports new applications and use cases to create cost savings and revenue opportunities. However, in order to achieve those gains, companies need to ensure that their underlying IoT infrastructure is secure, scalable and cost-effective. As with internet and mobile, companies that try to short-cut that infrastructure — or invest in IoT without clear ends in mind — will find the cost, complexity and risk often outweigh the gains.”
– Kevin Tate, CRO, Rigado

“In my opinion, the biggest misconception around IoT today is firmly around where the business value lies. Many market experts tried to force fit the opportunity onto technology and as such, ICT suppliers have become very frustrated with IoT. Rather, the opportunity is in business process transformation built on an IoT platform that enables data exchanges to exist. Here, tangible and measurable business value can be extracted from an IoT solution.”
– Vernon Turner, principal and chief strategist, Causeway Connections (@vernonxt)

“One of the main misconceptions around IoT nowadays is that it can only be used for process automation and cost reduction. The reality is that, alongside an advanced data analytics strategy, IoT can lead to a better understanding of product usage and customer behavior. It can also generate new revenue streams from existing products and services, uncovering new markets and testing entirely new business models. Think this is science fiction? Not at all. In fact, the IDC European Vertical Markets Survey 2018 shows that more than 25% of European IoT adopters are already using IoT to test new business models.”
– Marta Muñoz Méndez-Villamil, research director, IDC (@MartaMunozMV) and Andrea Siviero, research manager, IDC (@sivieroand)

“No doubt, the internet of things is riding high on a wave of hype. Examples pop up in the tech and business media all the time. And yet there is so much more that you don’t hear about. The media tends to rely on a stock set of scenarios that are just the high-profile tip of an iceberg that is far larger than most people realize. That’s because when it comes to IoT innovations, a great many organizations are keeping their mouths shut. As the IoT market matures beyond its nascence, we will see entire industries come alive and revise their value propositions, all because IoT has given them insights like never before. But don’t expect to read about individual successes in the news. Organizations deploying IoT know it can be a great disruptor. They also know that its value will increase with time, as it provides data and insights into operations and customer behavior that can be further used to modify business models. In other words, many organizations will aim stay quiet while marching to the head of the curve.”
-Milan Kalal, program manager, internet of things, Central and Eastern Europe, IDC (@milankalal)

“It seems to me organizations are still learning the importance of a software-centric approach to building IoT solutions. Successful IoT deployments need to consider how the software is developed, tested, deployed and redeployed across the entire IoT solution. This is big change from having hardware deployed to the field that can’t be updated remotely.”
-Ian Skerrett, IoT consultant, former VP of marketing, Eclipse Foundation (@IanSkerrett)

“In fairness, lots of progress has been made to expand the scope, capabilities and operational control of physical products through internet connectivity. While focus on IoT security is crucial, especially for solutions and products with safety and business critical concerns, important lessons need to be learned by those not accustomed to managing connected solutions. One, it’s not new. Two, meaningful application is not always that simple. Three, the science and art of algorithms are rarely articulated. Four, edge computing and domain knowledge (industry or processing) are inextricably linked, Five, IoT is not always a good thing.”
-Bola Rotibi, founder and research director, CIC (@bolarotibi)

“I believe the biggest misconception around IoT is that it is some nebulous thing that is difficult to achieve. In reality, IoT is in use and delivering results today. In fact, Itron has been enabling IoT for decades. In collaboration with utilities and cities, we have connected more than 190 million intelligent devices around the world to better manage the delivery and use of energy and water. Another misconception is that video won’t work on IoT networks because of throughput, when in fact the introduction of edge computing on Itron’s Ubuntu Core-based platform has enabled video and audio analytics at the edge. This has enabled applications such as smart traffic, parking and gunshot detection.”
-Itai Dadon, smart cities executive, Itron (@itaidadon)

“The biggest misconception is that IoT is about things. It’s actually, of course, about data. What’s most exciting is that from the observations captured by the various sensors embedded in connected things, we can learn an incredible amount about the physical world — what’s changing, what’s working well or not, and which new risks are emerging. We can start to solve very hard problems that until now have been beyond our reach, like not only training a car to drive itself, but also enabling it to know when an accident or another obstacle behind the next curve has just happened the minute before the car got to that location.”
-Stefan Hansen, senior vice president and general manager EMEA, Here Technologies

Based on what we heard from these experts, misconceptions about IoT abound. This is not unusual with game-changing technologies. The really impactful ones always stir discussion about their future courses and what organizations need to know to be ready. The comments seem to show a particular need to “keep it real” when it comes to IoT — that is, make sure to build a solid business case within the organization and understand the specific value propositions.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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