Blame the skills gap? Businesses failing to take advantage of IoT data

Blame the skills gap? Businesses failing to take advantage of IoT data

ICO crackdown on Internet of Things device privacy
ICO crackdown on Internet of Things device privacy

A new study published this week claims firms that want to use IoT data to help them improve product quality are failing to execute on these visions.

Commissioned and created by LogMeIn’s Xively, the study – entitled ‘Simplifying the Complexity of IoT’ – investigates how product companies are seizing the opportunity connected data offers to drive business value and actionable insights.

The survey consists of 232 companies that are currently manufacturing or developing connected products. It says the priorities, challenges and focus of companies based on whether they have launched an IoT product already or not are often different.

This, the researchers say, supports the hypothesis that manufacturers of connected technologies, in the early days, prioritise IoT-enabled connectivity and having a variety of functionalities to aid their products. The latter results in 20 percent of overall effort.

IoT data priorities differ per company

It found that half of respondents are collecting product and customer data from IoT devices, and a third are using this information for so-called “actionable insights”. These, according to study, are benefiting both the companies and their customers.

While the majority of companies are collecting data in some shape or form, the report found that fewer are acting on it – creating a missed opportunity for leveraging valuable customer data. Instead, firms tend to focus their time and resources on connecting products.

In another key area of the report, 61 percent revealed they believe that product monitoring features are beneficial when it comes to designing and creating new connected products for consumers – despite privacy concerns.

Related: TfL CIO says Internet of Things data can help London commuters

Challenges around efficiency

Product manufacturers can struggle to maximise IoT efficiency as well, with the need for third-party support. Enabling IoT products comes down to employees with a variety of skills and experiences, which the study says most firms are unequipped to provide.

Support ranges from security to device management, and companies are relying on different partners to provide relevant technologies, platforms and expertise. For example, a product manufacturer could well be monitoring customer data, which opens security challenges. They may need to outsource support to ensure information is always protected.

Manufacturers also deploy IoT-enabled products to achieve differentiation and to show they’re jumping on the “IoT bandwagon”, an industry that’ll be worth $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to Garner.

Improving customer experience

“Product manufacturers are engineering new internet-of-things-enabled features and services into commercial, industrial, and consumer products to differentiate their products, improve customer experience, and create new ways of engaging with customers,” the study says.

“Having digital information about connected device use and location enables product and process managers to use software to create better, personalized experiences for customers that result in brand preference, customer retention, and, ultimately, higher revenues and profit..

“Understanding how a product is being used can afford companies the ability to continually personalize and enhance their customer’s experience, open up the possibility of new revenue streams, and optimize internal processes.”

Related: The IoT ‘edge’ in micro datacenters

Data privacy concerns

Although businesses are increasingly turning to IoT to collect customer data in a bid to improve products and services, there’s concern around privacy and whether all this information could be poached by cyber criminals.

Earlier this year, Jim Anning, head of data and analytics at British Gas Connected Homes, told Internet of Business: “One of the things we’re very aware is the data we collect is from the inside of peoples’ home. You have to be ethical around what you do with that, it is your responsibility to look after the data on behalf of your customer.

“We have no plans to go sell that IoT data to somebody, as it’s not really our data to sell.”