This week I had the opportunity to review the latest research report from Microsoft, called “IoT Signals.”  As part of the study, I had a chance to interview, Jaishree Subramania, senior director, Azure IoT, Microsoft, on The Peggy Smedley Show. First, let me say I was impressed—not only with the research report that says 30% of an organizations’ revenue will be the result of the Internet of Things in just two years—but how companies will be taking some big steps to finally embrace the IoT (Internet of Things).

Let’s be honest, that’s a pretty significant percentage. And it’s good to know that Microsoft took the time to survey more than 3,000 IoT decisionmakers, which the results of this research give us a good market-level view of the IoT ecosystem.

The survey says 85% of respondents are currently in the thick of IoT adoption. When we take a closer look at these IoT adopters, the research tells us their outlook is positive.

As Subramania points out, among IoT adopters in this survey, 88% consider the IoT to be critical to future business success, so they believe what they’re doing is worthwhile and necessary.

Respondents also seem particularly optimistic about a quick return on investment. IoT adopters believe they will see a 30% ROI on their IoT projects within the next two years.

As far as specific technology trends that are driving this high rate of adoption and optimism, we’re looking at things like AI (artificial intelligence), edge computing, 5G, digital twins, and blockchain, among others.

Companies in a wide range of verticals are looking at these technologies and realizing they can’t be complacent anymore.

Whether they’re looking to optimize operations, engage customers on a deeper level, keep better track of physical and digital assets, or improve data security within the enterprise, IoT technologies are a huge part of many organizations’ game plans going forward.

While those numbers do signal something positive for the IoT market it’s important to look at the hurdles to adoption as well. Some 97% of Microsoft’s respondents say they have security concerns when implementing IoT.

And 38% cite complexity and technical challenges as a hurdle to IoT adoption.

One in three projects apparently fail during the proof-of-concept stage, and typical reasons for these failures include implementation costs and a lack of defined expected benefits to the bottomline.

There’s also a significant IoT skills gap that affects adoption and implementation. Half of IoT adopters say a lack of IoT talent and training is a key challenge. Nearly half (47%) similarly say there aren’t enough skilled workers in the market. The skills gap is something that needs to be addressed by the industry as a whole.

Many times I find myself interviewing professors quite often and there is a lot of effort in their part to increase focus on the IoT at the university level. That’s a good thing.

We also need to upskill current workers to help close the IoT skills gap. There is no question that companies need to invest in current employees, bring in new talent that knows IoT, and lean on your value chain partners’ expertise when you’re implementing solutions.

As part of Microsoft’s new report, the company also identified seven “key ingredients for success in IoT.”

Business Strategy
The first is business strategy. You don’t usually accomplish your goals if you don’t set goals to begin with. For successful IoT implementations, you need to start out with a clear understanding of the business problems you want to solve, as well as the investment needed to address these problems, and the ROI you expect from your implementation.

Leadership
The second ingredient is leadership. Basically, you need to get everyone on board—clear messaging, buy-in from all parties. These are all necessary components.

Technology Roadmap
Third, let’s talk about a technology roadmap. Similar to a business strategy, you’re going to need a roadmap to help you plan for what it will take infrastructure-wise to scale IoT solutions.

Talent
The fourth key ingredient is talent. You can’t emphasis the need for skills and the skills shortage in IoT. You’re going to need to build a team with multi-disciplinary skills and experience in areas like IoT architecture, data science, security, and machine learning/artificial intelligence.

Operations and Core Business Processes
Fifth on Microsoft’s list is operations and core business processes. What it is saying here is that the IoT changes core business processes, and businesses need to be thinking about how they can alter operations to achieve maximum value.

Partnerships
Sixth is business partnerships—an ecosystem really is important to success in IoT.  And the seventh key to success is security.

Security
Security should always be foremost on any company’s mind. IoT security needs to be addressed early and often during an IoT implementation. It can’t be an afterthought. Let’s put security front-and-center in all IoT implementations and we’ll all be better off for it.

IoT Successes
Your company is at a crossroads, much like many businesses. The key to success will be implementing IoT solutions to help you be more innovative. In order to achieve success you must have the right people on your team. It’s going to go a long way in making your implementation successful. Couple that with security and what more can I say about security?

Simply, it’s foundational. Don’t ignore the obvious. We’ve all seen what happens to companies that do.

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