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Cisco Study Shows Most IoT Projects Unsuccessful

One of the big take-aways from the annual Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) held in London last week were the results of a new Cisco study that only about 1/3 of the IoT projects were considered completely successful, technically.  Financially the success rate was even worse—just 15%—according to the business executives surveyed.  The study was conducted among over 1,300 executives in medium and large size companies in the manufacturing, energy, health care, transportation, and similar sectors. The findings suggest several reasons for low IoT project completion rates, and more important, point to specific remedies.

Unexpected Difficulties

As we have seen in the past, one of the primary reasons for project failure or lackluster results for IoT projects has been that those initiating the project were not aware at the outset how difficult implementation would be.  This is illustrated in the Cisco study results, where cost overruns and the need to extend timelines to completion were common.  Many respondents noted that they lacked the necessary internal IoT expertise.  As a result, over half of the IoT initiatives didn’t make it past the Proof of Concept phase, and of those that did, many ended up with poor IoT integration and/or low quality of data.

Need for Partnerships

These results underlined, according to the majority of survey respondents, the need for IoT partnerships.  At every stage of the project, from planning and design, through implementation and deployment, and during the management and maintenance phases, those organizations that engaged with IoT partners were more successful.  This applied to general areas of technical consulting and support, as well as specific aspects such as data analytics.

Commenting on this kind of relationship, the final report stated: “Our study found that the most successful organizations engage the IoT partner ecosystem at every stage, implying that strong partnerships throughout the process can smooth out the learning curve.”

Learning from Failure

The good news in all of this is that companies are willing and able to learn from mistakes.  Most survey respondents are optimistic for the future of the IoT, and they see its potential.  Over sixty percent believe that they “have barely begun to scratch the surface of what IoT technologies can do for their businesses.”

Among the participants who have completed projects, most said that they are using data from the IoT to improve their business.  Two out of three of them have seen the greatest benefits in improved customer satisfaction, more efficient operations, and better quality of products and/or services.  The most unexpected benefit was improved profitability for the company.

These results corroborate our experience.  The companies that we partner with report a much higher success rate than most of those participating in the Cisco study.  We agree with the finding that “strong partnerships throughout the process can smooth out the learning curve,” and we take seriously the challenge of removing the difficulties that may crop up when embarking on an IoT project.