Why your IoT initiative is failing

A constant part of any IT professional’s job is implementing new technologies as they become enterprise-ready.

But integrating new technology into the enterprise IT infrastructure isn’t as simple as plugging in hardware, installing software and turning on a switch. Most of the crucial work involved in a tech implementation comes during the planning and testing stages. Not surprisingly, this is where most unsuccessful initiatives run aground.

That’s certainly the case with Internet of Things (IoT) deployments, according to a new Cisco survey of more than 1,800 IT leaders in the U.S. and UK.

As Network World‘s Brandon Butler writes, as many as 60% of IoT projects launched by respondents “stalled at the proof of concept phase.”

“In most cases,” Butler says, “problems arise from company culture, organization and structure.” Specifically, respondents cite five top reasons for the failure of their IoT projects:

  • Time to completion
  • Lack of internal expertise
  • Low quality of data
  • Inability to integrate
  • Budget over-runs

The good news is that while failure definitely isn’t a preferable outcome, it can eventually lead to success. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) say lessons learned from stalled or failed IoT initiatives help accelerate their enterprise’s investment in IoT.

Presumably those lessons cover how to avoid the pitfalls listed above, many of which are interrelated.

Take the top reason listed by respondents for IoT project failure — taking too long. This is really a symptom of other issues, such as lack of internal skills and experience in IoT, as well as lack of collaboration and buy-in across the enterprise. Infighting, confusion about goals and strategy and other failings related to enterprise culture and management have doomed countless technology initiatives before the technology even was deployed.

Low quality of data is another critical factor.

As I wrote recently, the ability to collect and analyze quality data “enables enterprises to fully leverage the strategic and operational benefits of IoT.” If the enterprise isn’t able to identify, collect and analyze the “right” IoT data, it will end up with a bunch of new connected devices with value unknown. What competitive or operational strategy does that serve?

Bottom line: IoT initiatives won’t succeed unless an enterprise lays the groundwork to ensure its success. And that groundwork extends far beyond existing infrastructure technology to culture, leadership and skill sets. If those are in place, even initial failures can be converted into wins.

Is your enterprise struggling with its IoT initiatives for any of the reasons listed above?


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