Governments and businesses in the Middle East and Africa will invest over $6.6 billion in Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, software, services and connectivity by the end of the year, according to figures released by the International Data Corporation (IDC). And, according to the findings of a new study sponsored by LogMeIn and conducted by Harbor Research, The Internet of Things Journey, nearly all companies to have embarked on a connected-product journey report both financial and customer experience benefits as a result. The research, which surveyed 600 product companies in various stages of deployment, found that 87% have seen increased revenue as a direct result of connecting a product, and over 90% have seen improvements in business efficiencies and product uptime.
As per LogMeIn’s study, the biggest reported improvement was in customer insights. Only 25% of all companies surveyed expected customer and product insight improvements when they started their connected product project, yet 95% of these manufacturers reported valuable customer insights on customer behaviour, needs and preferred modes of interaction, as a result of connecting a product. Additionally, 93% reported customer support as a business improvement since connecting products, while 88% also cited improved customer relationships.
These benefits do not come without their challenges, however. According to the survey, 44% of companies in both early and active IoT deployment phases say that data management is the biggest challenge when it comes to using IoT data to make better business decisions. Of the organisations that have existing IoT deployments, 43% cited integration with existing business systems as one of their biggest challenges.
“The IoT journey is a long and sometimes bumpy road, but one that can completely change a business for the better,” said Paddy Srinivasan, General Manager, Xively by LogMeIn. “The challenges companies face are extremely diverse and often anticipated issues are not the ones that end up holding an IoT project back. Connected product management tools are designed to help companies move beyond the hurdles of connecting and launching a product for those in the early phases of deployment, and scaling, securing and integrating products with existing business systems for those in the later phases. The end goal is to create a product that provides value for both the company and the customer. Ensuring that customer and product data is managed properly, is actionable and available to stakeholders is critical to meeting that goal.”
Revenue is not the key project driver, but is a strong benefit: only 6% anticipated that revenue would be the top benefit of implementation, yet 87% of those who have deployed a connected product are seeing revenue improvements.
Business efficiencies are the key project driver: 34% of product companies report that business efficiencies are the number-one justification when selling IoT projects internally.
Companies underestimate the complexity of security: 46% of companies who have actively deployed IoT products cite security as the greatest challenge, while only 30% of those in the planning stages anticipate security to be their biggest challenge.
Interoperability is a design and early deployment headache: 34% of companies in the planning stages cite interoperability and integration as their greatest expected challenge and 39% of those in early IoT deployment cite it as their greatest challenge. This drops dramatically for active deployment companies where only 23% see it as a challenge.