Half of UK firms will employ a Chief IoT officer this year
Half of UK firms will employ a Chief IoT officer by 2016
Half of UK firms will employ a Chief IoT officer by 2016 (Image credit: Clarity.fm)

Half of UK firms will employ a Chief IoT officer this year

According to a report published today by cyber-security specialist Webroot and data centre firm IO, half of businesses in the UK are planning to employ a Chief IoT Officer in the next 12 months.

The creation of this role is in response to the growth of IoT, an industry that could be worth a staggering $11 trillion (£7.7 trillion) by 2025 if research from McKinsey and Company is accurate.

As well as this, 94 percent of British businesses are thought to be investing in initiatives in preparation for IoT. These investments are being spread across infrastructure, security, R&D, skills and personnel.

Delving into the report, a number of sectors are revealed to be interested in hiring a CIOTO as part of their IoT expansion. They are education (63 percent), retail (63 percent) and telecoms (64 percent).

The survey, entitled “IoT: Risk or Reward”, consists of 500 CEOs and senior decision makers in the UK. It also reveals that 63 percent of businesses are increasing their investments in IoT projects by an average of 43 percent and that 68 percent of business leaders are expecting positive outcomes through the investments.

Network infrastructure seems to be a focus for many business leaders, with 71 percent agreeing that improving in this area is important. This is driven by the fact that almost a quarter of businesses feel that their current ICT infrastructure is a barrier to adopting IoT successfully.

IO’s director Andrew Roughan said: “We’re definitely seeing a move in enterprises. In recent years, we have seen a large and growing infrastructure investment to build digital infrastructures for the future. We haven’t seen the tipping point yet in terms of how that has been utilised, the type of traffic and utilisation that will flow through both datacentres’ network infrastructure and devices.

Also read: Skills shortage threatens to derail IoT adoption

IoT infrastructure support needed

“There are some initiatives that can drive change quickly and deliver some customer-facing and online benefits, but this is about more than that – it’s about defining the next era of the enterprise, beyond five or ten years. The infrastructure to support IoT needs some careful consideration, as typical enterprise-scale infrastructure investments won’t enable the IoT to scale economically”.

Paul Shepherd, CEO of digital consultancy Coup Media and movie analytics tool Tweview, believes that while companies are only in the adoption phase right now, the role will become crucial over the next few years.

He told Internet of Business: “Ultimately, I think this role will go the way of many other roles whereby companies toy with the idea until the demand becomes so overwhelming that it’s created out of a real necessity.

“We saw this with heads of mobile and heads of social roles. Increasingly we’re seeing the same with heads of data and insights and the continual morphing of the responsibilities of the CMO/CTO/CIO.”

“Everyone knows we’re in a massive state of flux with technology outpacing businesses on a daily basis and we’ll continue to see new roles coming to the fore as the relentless advances in technology – and the resulting tidal waves of data continues.”

Ed Tomalin, client partner at digital agency Head, reckons this role will be popular among companies making physical products.

Speaking to Internet of Business, he said: “Chief IoT officer roles look likely be created in companies making products in sectors such as white goods, consumer electronics, property security and FMCG among others.

“Their role will be to pivot traditional product-based companies into service based organisations. The opportunities arising from IoT lie in being able to flexibly service customers through software enhancements rather than constantly creating new physical products.”

A shortage of skills has been cited as one of the early barriers to IoT deployment, alongside security and privacy concerns.

Also read: Why the UK is playing catch-up with Big Data