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Is Internet of Things a thing yet?

If you’re in the business of working with or promoting the so-called Internet of Things, you’re at a bit of a crossroads. The potential is enormous and the market growth is massive. Forecasts are huge.

Only…a new report from a major technology company suggests it’s not actually all that good. In fact, according to Cisco, three quarters (or “three fourths” as the announcement bafflingly states) of Internet of Things projects actually fail.

Internet of Things and the public

This isn’t just a matter of gadgets for the boys either. Yes, there are often alarming stories in the press about connected dolls sending data back to the manufacturer unbidden or being hacked, or security risks in general, but IoT powers a great deal more. The notion of a smart city is dependent on inanimate objects being connected, for example.

In fact IDC has predicted that Internet of Things endpoints will grow from 14.9bn at the end of 2016 to more than 82bn in 2025. Which makes Cisco’s research a bit of a problem; at the current rate only 20bn or so of the things will work.

In more detail, some 60 per cent of IoT projects stall at the “proof of concept” (PoC) stage, which means they basically prove they won’t work. 26 per cent of companies considered they had a proper successful project, but about a third conceded that their IoT efforts were a failure.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” said Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IoT and Applications, Cisco. “But there are plenty of things we can do to get more projects out of pilot and to complete success.”

Factors affecting failure were many, according to the report. The human factor means that culture, organisation and leadership can hold a project back. Companies and public sector entities holding IoT implementations close to their chest rather than taking on partnerships appeared doomed to failure, whereas organisations taking on the right partnerships and being prepared to learn from mistakes rated higher.

So far, so reasonably obvious. But things have to improve; a 26 per cent success rate for a new technology isn’t going to be acceptable for long.

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