By Duncan Macrae
More than half of UK businesses (54 percent) plan to employ a chief IoT officer within the next year.
This is especially so in the education (63 percent), retail (63 percent) and telecomms (64 percent) sectors, research commissioned by cyber-security specialist Webroot and data center organization IO has revealed.
This comes as 94 percent of all U.K. businesses invest in initiatives to prepare for IoT, spreading those investments across infrastructure, security, R&D, skills and personnel.
The survey of 500 CEOs and senior decision makers in the United Kingdom showed that in 2016, 60 percent of U.K. businesses are increasing their investments in IoT projects, by an average of 42 percent. Crucially, they are doing this because they expect real, tangible results. As many as 68 percent of business leaders expect to reap actual benefits from their IoT investments in 2016—a step up from the one in five who feel they are seeing benefits today.
Network infrastructure is attracting the bulk of investment with 71 percent of business leaders agreeing that improving network infrastructure and capacity is a primary focus, often driven by the inadequacy of their existing networks; nearly a quarter of businesses (24 percent) say that their current ICT infrastructure is a barrier to successful IoT adoption.
Andrew Roughan, director at IO, 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 utilized, the type of traffic and utilization that will flow through both datacenters' network infrastructure and devices.
"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."
Top of business leaders' list of potential barriers is security—an issue which 80 percent of them believe to be impeding innovation, but which only a quarter (27 percent) of businesses are re-engineering to cater for greater connectedness across their organization. 37 percent of respondents expressed specific concerns about data security, which they think is impeding progress—and 57 percent of business leaders think that security in general is likely to be compromised as organizations try to innovate quickly.
Webroot's VP, strategic partnerships, IoT, John Sirianni, said: "The speed at which the cyber-criminals innovate is generally faster than the speed at which enterprises can react. The enterprise can only hire so many security professionals—and they need to make sure that when they do, they invest in the best technologies, processes and training too.
"We have already seen every piece of critical infrastructure hacked—nuclear power plants, oil and gas refineries, and aeroplanes. They have all been compromised at some level. A lot of the cyber-criminals have new toys to play with in the industrial base. 'Can I get into this building? Can I get into that control valve?' The only good news is that they have not yet figured out the best way to monetize that."