First survey of C-level execs’ view of the IoT

For a big project I’m working on, I’ve fruitlessly combed the Web for surveys of C-level executives’ view of the Internet of Things — until now!

ARM has just released results of a worldwide June survey, “The Internet of Things Business Index: a quiet revolution gathers pace,” that included many C-level executives, which the Economist‘s Intelligence Unit did for ARM about respondents’ attitudes toward the IoT.

I’d strongly advise you to read the entire report for a reality check on the current state of the IoT (provided, of course, that the sample population really reflects corporate attitudes as a whole — in my mind, that’s a big if, because most companies just haven’t been disclosing much information about IoT initiatives. Of course that might be because they view IoT initiatives as a real strategic advantage!).

I was happily surprised, given the low level of business media coverage of the IoT until recent months, to see how many of those surveyed knew about the IoT and were actively involved in planning for corporate initiatives, although most of those initiatives were only in the early research stages and most companies weren’t convinced the IoT would be of major near-term benefit.

The report concluded that companies are taking the IoT seriously, although without a lot of public notice:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is an idea whose time has finally come. Falling technology costs, developments in complementary fields like mobile and cloud, together with support from governments have all contributed to the dawning of an IoT ‘quiet revolution’. Now, after more than a decade of slow progress, the business community is beginning to look seriously at the IoT—to the extent that a mere 6% of business leaders believe that the idea of IoT is simply hype…”

Here are the major findings:

  • “over three-quarters of companies are either actively exploring or using the IoT. The vast majority of business leaders believe that it will have a meaningful impact on how their companies conduct business, yet there is some divergence about the wider effect it will have”
  • “optimism about the IoT is not yet matched by investment.” 96% expect to use the IoT in some way within 3 years, but they aren’t spending much on it: only 30% have increased their IoT spending by double-digits since 2012.
  • 61% think “companies that are slow to integrate the IoT into their business will fall behind the competition.” Consider yourself forewarned!
  • only 24% felt that the IoT would be “very relevant, used by the majority of the business” within the next 3 years.
  • “A lack of IoT skills and knowledge among employees and management is viewed as the biggest obstacle to using the IoT more extensively. To address these gaps, organisations are training staff and recruiting IoT talent, raising the potential for IoT talent wars. Others are hiring consultants and third-party experts, seeking to build knowledge and identify successful IoT business models.” (sounds like a lot of opportunity for our ilk!)
  • Here’s one that particularly resonated with me because of my relentless emphasis on collaboration as one of the “Essential Truths” of the IoT: “Companies must learn to co-operate with players across industries, including competitors…. businesses must be willing to adopt a different mindset. Successful IoT rollouts require interconnected networks of products and services, but few senior executives currently expect their business to become more co-operative with competitors as a result of the IoT. ” Oops: too bad for you — it ain’t just a technological shift, but an attitudinal one as well!
  • It’s going to lead to a data explosion. While companies think they’re up to this challenge, “….prior experience of storing and analysing large amounts of “big data” may lead them to underestimate the additional talent and skills needed to spot new uses and revenue steams emerging from it.” It will also increase needs for security and privacy. 

The Economist chose the ARM report as the setting to announce a new IoT Business Index, which will be updated to track progress toward actualizing the IoT. In the benchmark edition of the index, most businesses are in the “research” stage (at  point 4 on a scale of 1 to 10). They are more likely to use the IoT at this point for internal operations and processes instead of external products or services. As I’d expected, European companies are in the lead, and, among industries, manufacturing is the leading one. Hmm: wonder if that means a growing number are installing sensors on the assembly line?

The survey included 779 senior business leaders, among whom almost half (49%), were C-level executives or board members. The sample included:

  • 29% from Europe, 29% from North America, 30% from Asia-Pacific, and  12% from Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.
  • 19 industries. About 10% each from financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, IT and technology, energy and natural resources, and construction and real estate.
  • The sample is evenly split between large firms, with an annual revenue of more than US$500m, and small and mid-sized firms.

All in all, I think this is an important reality check in terms of commercialization of the IoT. It seems that it’s increasingly on the corporate radar, but that hasn’t translated into a lot of concrete action. It will be interesting to track annual updates of The Economist‘s IoT Business Index to see if analysis turns into action.

Could IoT Allow Do-over for Privacy, Security — & Trust?

Posted on 13th September 2013 in communication, management, privacy, security

Expect to be reading a lot here about privacy and security between now and my panel on those issues at the IoT Summit in DC, Oct. 1 & 2, as I prep to ask the panel questions!

Here’s another, from Stacy Higginbotham (BTW, she does a great podcast on IoT issues!), based on a conversation with ARM CTO Mike Muller. It’s reassuring to see that this IoT-leading firm is taking privacy and security seriously. Even more refreshingly, theirs is a nuanced and thoughtful view.

Muller told Higginbotham that IoT vendors should learn from some of the missteps on privacy on the Web so far, and make amends:

“’We should think about trust as who has access to your data and what they can do with it. For example, I’ll know where you bought something, when you bought it, how often and who did you tweet about it.

“When you put the long tail of lots of bits of information and big data analytics associated with today’s applications we can discern a lot. And people are not thinking it through. … I think it’s the responsibility of the industry that, as people connect, to make them socially aware of what’s happening with their data and the methods that are in place to make connections between disparate sets of data (my emphasis). In the web that didn’t happen, and the sense of lost privacy proliferated and it’s all out there. People are trying to claw that back and implement privacy after the fact.”

Higginbotham adds that “… what troubles Muller is that today, there’s nothing that supports trust and privacy in the infrastructure associated with the internet of things.”

What struck me, as someone who used to earn his living doing corporate crisis management, is that one of the critical issues in trust (or lack thereof) is guilt by association may not be logically valid, but is emotionally powerful: if people’s preconception of IoT privacy and security standards is that they’re simply an extension of Internet ones, there’s likely to be trouble.

She goes on to differentiate between security, privacy — and trust.

“Trust is the easiest to define and the hardest to implement. It relies on both transparency and making an effort to behave consistently ….  When it comes to connected devices and apps, trust is probably most easily gained by explaining what you do with people’s data: what you share and with whom. It might also extend to promises about interoperability and supporting different platforms. Implicitly trust with connected devices also means you will respect people’s privacy and follow the best security practices….

“Privacy is more a construct of place as opposed to something associated with a specific device. So a connected camera on a public street is different from a connected camera inside your home. It’s easy to say that people shouldn’t be able to just grab a feed from inside your home — either from a malicious hack or the government (or a business) doing a random data scrape. But when it comes to newer connected devices like wearables it gets even more murky: Consider that something like a smart meter can share information about the user to someone who knows what to look for.

“So when thinking about the internet of things and privacy, it’s probably useful to start with thinking about the data the device generates….

(As for security:) “To protect privacy when everything is connected will require laws that punish violations of people’s privacy and draw lines that companies and governments can’t step over; but it will also require vigilance by users. To get this right, users should be reading the agreements they click through when they connect a device, but companies should also create those agreements, especially around data sharing transparent, in a way that inspires trust.

Governments and companies need to think about updating laws for a connected age and set criteria about how different types of data are transported and shared. Health data might still need the HIPAA-levels of regulations, but maybe looser standards can prevail for connected thermostats.”

Sounds to me as if there’s a role in these complex issues for all of us: vendors, government, and users.

But the one take-away that I have from Muller’s remarks is that IoT vendors must realize they have to earn users trust, and that’s going to require a combination of technical measures and unambiguous, plain-English communication with users about who owns their data and how it will be used. To me, that means not hiding behind the lawyers and agate-type legal disclaimers, but clear, easy-to-understand declarations about users’ rights to their data and companies’ need to directly ask them for access, displayed prominently, with the default being that the user completely denies access, and must opt in for it to be shared. 

What do you think?

Higginbotham concludes that “we need to stop freaking out about the dangers of connected devices and start having productive discussions about implementing trust and security before the internet of things goes the way of the web. Wonderful, free and a total wild west when it comes to privacy.” Hopefully, that’s what will happen during our October 1st panel.

Xively: LogMeIn launches first Internet of Things public cloud

Posted on 14th May 2013 in Internet of Things

At last week’s 2nd Boston/New England IoT Meetup, LogMeIn officials hinted at a big announcement today.

No kidding! The news was that they’ve teamed with ARM, the mobile chip giant, to launch the “Xively  (Xively? Where, pray tell, do they come up with these names ??) Jumpstart Kit” to accelerate the launch of commercial projects on the IoT:

“…a rapid prototyping-to-production bundle that significantly reduces the cost, complexity and learning curve required to bring IoT-based connected products and solutions to market.”

The kit combines:

  • the first public cloud for the Internet of Things
  • ARM mbed™, “a platform for rapidly building connected devices using ARM-based microcontrollers.”

The combination of services will allow developers of any size to quickly move from prototypes to IoT commercial services.

According to LogMeIn CEO Michael Simon:

“The Internet of Things signifies the next major wave of the Internet, one that we believe could even eclipse both the web and mobile waves combined, and presents a massive opportunity for businesses that want to create a new generation of compelling connected products.  In order to make this happen, they need a simple, affordable way to experiment and innovate through a platform that will enable them to seamlessly move from prototype to commercial product, and then scale as demand grows. By working together with leading vendors like ARM, a company that’s been a driving force in the enablement of the IoT, we can deliver a powerful, easy way for companies to jumpstart their IoT-based connected products and turn them into reality.”

Analyst Glenn Allmendinger, CEO of Harbor Research, said the service is one of three factors that will accelerate growth of the IoT:

“We are seeing real traction in the Internet of Things market. Three forces are converging: connectivity, innovative new device designs and a new generation of technology tools that let manufacturers focus on their core product innovation instead of on building Internet of Things infrastructure from scratch. This can be a hundreds of billions of dollars opportunity.  Xively Cloud Services organizes a true end-to-end chain of tools, support, partners, and infrastructure for smart systems on the IoT.”

Xively is the latest evolution in what began as Usman Haque‘s pioneering Pachube platform.