Are Enterprises Being Forced Into IoT?

It’s the Internet of Everything, and if it can go online, it will.

That’s the state of technology now, with everything from cars to refrigerators to mobile phones and spaceships being digitally connected. Oftentimes, innovation comes before education, however, and nowhere is that less beneficial than at the corporate level, where enterprises are attempting to digitally transform, but can only do so in increments.

So does that mean enterprises are being forced into the Internet of Things, which comes saddled with new IT needs, like security measures, data analysts, and other OpEx expenditures?

Let’s look at the numbers first. Conservative forecasts say there’ll be 20 billion “connected” devices on the planet by decade’s end, with other wide-ranging reports looking at 50 billion devices all online by 2020. And with the proliferation of enterprise mobility and the future of work movement, a large percentage of those devices will in some way be associated with a company’s employees or its data.

See related: 20B Connected ‘Things’ By End Of Decade

According to Gartner, in 2016, 5.5 million ‘things’ were being connected each day, showing the immense growth of IoT from a consumer and business standpoint.

It’s the perceived value of everything being online that’s truly pushing the IoT movement.

The market expects to jump from a $157 billion valuation in 2016 to $457 billion in 2020.  Additionally, IoT’s data management market is also going to see a quick uptick in value, moving from $27.54 billion to $66.44 billion between 2017 and 2022. The major factors driving the growth of IoT data management market include the modernization of data warehouse architectures and rise in need for data traffic management. The increasing adoption of data encryption for IoT device security and growing data intrusion threats are also some of the factors driving market growth.

“You have to start with what the definition of IoT is,” said Jeff Orr, contributor to Enterprise Mobility Exchange. “Each company wants to personalize it; whether it’s IoT, security, AI, etc., there’s a lot that businesses need to be thinking about. There’s a disillusionment that bringing in new technologies will solve everyone’s fears and worries. That puts way too much hope in a reality that likely won’t happen.”

Implementing IoT in the enterprise isn’t about ROI, per se, but what kind of value it can bring to the organization and where it can reduce redundancies and enhance automation. “These are the qualities that will impact the bottom line in a business over time,” Orr said. “It’s about efficiencies, workflow optimization, and what gaps can be filled where humans aren’t bringing value.”

In a Forbes Insight report conducted in partnership with Hitachi recently, IoT led the way in importance and potential implementation for companies eyeing innovative technologies, garnering 33% of the vote up against Robotics (26%), AI and machine learning (20%), Nano-technologies (9%), 3D printing (7%), and augmented reality (4%). Furthering that, the overwhelming majority of respondents said IoT was either significant in current operations or pilot programs were being rolled out across eight major industries, including Energy, BFSI, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail, IT, Telecom, and Transport.

So to answer the question, yes, enterprises are being forced into the Internet of Things, whether they want to head that route or not. But industry leaders are showing those companies that embrace ultra-connectivity are changing the culture of how digital transformation is handled in their enterprise.

And that’s a good thing.