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Most IOT projects fail: 4 tips to fix this

A great deal of money, time and effort is being thrown at the Internet of things (IOT). IDC predicts that the worldwide installed base of IOT endpoints will grow from 14.9 billion at the end of 2016 to more than 82 billion in 2025.

But the results of these efforts are disconcertingly limited, according to a report released recently by networking giant Cisco, which found that only a quarter of IOT projects were considered a complete success. Of the remaining IOT projects, 60% had stalled at the proof of concept stage and a third of those completed were considered failures.

According to Cisco, the study was undertaken to gain insight into both the successes as well as the challenges that are impacting IOT progress. It captured input from 1 845 respondents – IT and business decision-makers in the United States, UK, and India, representing a range of industries. 

The disappointing results for IOT projects were not for lack of trying, Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager, IOT and Applications at Cisco told delegates at the recent IOT World Forum in London.

Sixty percent of respondents stressed that their IOT initiatives often looked good on paper, but proved much more difficult than anyone expected. They identified the top five challenges across all stages of implementation as:

Time to completion;

Limited internal expertise;

Quality of data;

Integration across teams; and

Budget overruns.

"There are plenty of things we can do to get more projects out of pilot and to complete success," Trollope said.

Based on the key findings of the survey, he suggested the following:

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: 54% of respondents stressed the need for collaboration between IT and the business side; 49% spoke of the need for technology-focused culture, stemming from top-down leadership and executive sponsorship; and 48% stressed the need for IOT expertise, whether internal or through external partnership.
 

Don't go it alone. As  Inbar Lasser-Raab, VP of Cisco Enterprise Solutions Marketing, noted: "We are connecting things that we never thought would be connected… no one company can solve this alone." 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.

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%), operational efficiencies (67%) and improved product/service quality (66%). In addition, improved profitability was the top benefit (39%).

Learn from the failures. Taking on IOT projects led to another unexpected benefit: 64% agreed that learnings from stalled or failed IOT initiatives had helped accelerate their organisation's investment in IOT.


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