5 Major IoT Challenges Executives Are Grappling With

Challenges Mean Opportunities For Solution Providers

If there's one thing that's for sure, it's that the Internet of Things is here to stay. With Microsoft recently committing $5 billion to invest in IoT initiatives and a McKinsey study from last year pointing to strong growth potential in enterprise IoT, there are plenty of opportunities for solution providers to get into the space.

The organizers of IoT World, a conference in Santa Clara, Calif., happening next month, recently surveyed more than 100 IoT executives about their companies' initiatives and found that many of them face challenges when it comes to scalability, implementation, connectivity and security. Some are even considering whether blockchain, the decentralized ledger technology that powers the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, could solve challenges with security and efficiency.

The issues faced by these executives point to potential opportunities for solution providers to provide products and services that address issues with IoT system implementation and scalability. The surveyed companies represent leaders across several industries, including retail, supply chain and logistics, oil and gas, construction, agriculture, telecom, healthcare, governments and financial services.

In the following slides, we look at the biggest IoT issues that are top of mind for these executives.

Many Struggle With IoT Scalability

Scaling Internet of Things device networks remains a major issue for companies, with 46.39 percent of executives saying they can handle up to 1,000 devices while another 27.84 percent can only accommodate fewer than 100. Some companies have figured out the scaling issue, however, with 30.93 percent saying that they can manage 100,000 or more devices.

There are a few major challenges these companies face in scaling their IoT footprint: working with legacy devices and software (53.06 percent), the need for highly specialized and custom solutions (45.92 percent), and determining which departments are responsible for IoT-related gateways, networking equipment, analytics, sensors, and hardware and software (37.37 percent).

Implementation Remains An Issue

Implementing Internet of Things solutions remains a major issue for companies, with 46.94 percent of executives saying that implementation problems have hurt their IoT efforts. Meanwhile, an additional 12.24 percent say a significant hurdle has been the lack of support for production-quality deployments.

Another vexing issue for companies has been the question of who is responsible for implementing IoT projects -- should it be operations, IT or the C-suite? The majority of executives (32.65 percent) say they have created a business strategy team to handle IoT projects while another 27.55 percent have given this responsibility to IT.

Some Uncertainty About Data Protection Capabilities

Beyond implementation, companies are also struggling with connectivity management issues. Nearly half of the executives say they are uncertain as to whether they "could integrate connectivity management across any type of environment." Separately, nearly 40 percent are also not clear on whether they can connect their Internet of Things ecosystem to disparate networks.

One of the most troubling findings, however, is that 36.73 percent of executives say they are not confident that "their organization could secure and protect all data within their IoT ecosystem."

Security Is A Priority -- For Most

Security is top of mind for most of the surveyed executives, with 72.16 percent stating that they incorporate and embed security into the design and product life cycle of their Internet of Things devices. Separately, 61.86 percent say they are creating an IoT security policy or already have.

But companies are still struggling with IoT security in some respects. More than one-third of executives say they aren't staying current with security fixes and patches while 57.6 percent say they haven't trained IT staff on the latest IoT security updates.

Another concern: half of the executives say they don't keep an inventory of their connected devices while 43.4 percent don't conduct vulnerability testing to find weak points in the network.

Is Blockchain A Solution For IoT?

With the decentralized nature of blockchain, 46 percent of companies say they are pondering the use of the ledger technology to make IoT deployments more efficient and secure. Their top reasons for pursuing blockchain are reducing the risk for tampering and collusion (15.05 percent), building user trust (13.98 percent), accelerating data transactions (12.9 percent) and reducing overhead costs by removing middlemen and intermediaries (4.3 percent).