There's more to digital transformation than depositing mobile devices into employees' hands and moving IT workloads to the cloud. The Internet of Things (IoT) is also proving vital in helping organizations get up to speed in the new, highly-competitive digital economy.
Recently, market research firm Vanson Bourne surveyed 500 organizations, on behalf of London-based satellite communications company Inmarsat. Respondents worked for businesses with over 1,001 employees and had at least some influence on their organization's IoT initiatives, if not full decision-making authority.
Represented industries include agritech, energy, mining, transportation and a catch-all "other" category comprised of various other industries. Survey participants hailed from the Americas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and APJ (Asia-Pacific including Japan).
Most business (82 percent) reported that they had deployed IoT solutions within the past two years. A third reported that they have partially completed an IoT deployment while 21 percent said they had finished a deployment.
Meanwhile, businesses are banking on IoT as a springboard for innovation.
"Our research confirmed that IoT is the leading technology in the digital transformation that is storming through businesses the world over," stated the report. "Machine learning, robotics, automation, 3D printing, artificial intelligence and augmented reality can only bring significant value when they are guided by the most accurate data possible."
Currently, most IoT deployments are being used by enterprises to monitor energy consumption (48 percent), a use case that will be near-universally adopted within five years (99 percent). The second-place wide-area controls category, which includes device and vehicle management, is poised to grow from 34 percent now to 82 percent in five years.
Today, third place belongs to smart asset monitoring IoT technologies (28 percent), but the category will leap to second place in within five years (96 percent). Deployments of product monitoring solutions will jump from 24 percent today to 88 percent. Business process automation will grow from 23 percent today to 95 percent within the same timeframe.
Eighteen percent of organizations are currently using wearables for employee tracking purposes, a figure that is expected to jump to 73 percent in five years. While smart security IoT solutions are being used by only nine percent of businesses today, the category will skyrocket in popularity within five years to 94 percent.
Despite these bullish forecasts, obstacles remain.
Three-quarters of respondents identified security is a top challenge. The persistent IT skill gaps is also a concern.
Only 20 percent of organizations said they had the IT talent to deliver IoT-enabled solutions. A third (33 percent) said they could use some help and nearly half (47 percent) reported that they lacked the skills required.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.