HPE survey shows gangbusters IoT results, disturbing security issues

HPE and its Aruba subsidiary have released a report that paints a simultaneously great and awful picture for IoT adoption. While adopters are reporting very promising results, they are experiencing a horrifying amount of security attacks, which seem to indicate that we’re doomed to chronic insecurity in the IoT – at least until enterprise bottom-lines start getting savaged by security lapses.

The headline figures from the study say that 57% of the 3,100 professionals interviews had already adopted IoT technologies at their business, with the respondents coming from 20 countries. By 2019, that figure is expected to hit 85%. HPE notes that it found conflicting definitions of what IoT means (hardly surprising), but more worryingly, the report found some pretty major security oversights.

Noting that many organizations had failed to take adequate security measures, the report found that 84% of businesses had experienced an IoT-related security breach. The most reported breaches were via malware (49%), spyware (38%), and human error (also 38%). HPE notes that IoT deployments leave gaping back doors open. This is not encouraging, in the slightest.

The report points to other threats to IoT adoption, noting that while 98% say they can analyze data, 97% think there are challenges in creating value from the data. Some 39% choose not to analyze their corporate data. In addition, 94% of IT decision makers said they face barriers to creating business value from IoT tech, with 50% pointing to implementation costs, 44% to maintenance, and 43% to legacy system integration.

But IoT adoption has been positive, on the whole. Around 82% said business efficiency was up, 81% said IT was now more efficient, 78% reported improved customer service, 77% saw improved process visibility, 73% reported cost savings, and 72% said profits were up. Those are pretty glowing results.

However, there are still some weird figures in there. Apparently, 49% of business leaders, 70% of HR employees, and 78% of finance workers have yet to ask the IT department about IoT strategy, despite 97% of organizations expecting the IoT to deliver returns over the next five years. Unsurprisingly, HPE calls for more internal discussions to remedy this.

Of the 72% of enterprise organizations that have already introduced IoT devices and sensors into the workplace, 56% had installed connected lighting and HVAC systems. HPE noted that 51% had added personal mobile devices, although we’re not immediately clear on the IoT role they played. The enterprises said that indoor location-based services were their leading IoT use case, along with utility usage monitoring.

The Industrial sector had a 62% adoption rate, with chemical sensors (62%) and picking systems (46%) leading the curve. Reducing operational risk and downtime were the chief concerns, and 40% said they believed that IoT tech would help them expand into new markets. Some 83% of adopters saw significant increases in their business efficiency, with another 83% reporting that innovation had improved, and 80% observing an increase in their visibility.

In Healthcare, around 60% of organizations said they were already using IoT tech. Some 64% said they were using IoT patient monitors, and 41% had deployed connected imaging devices. The most cited IoT benefit was in monitoring and maintaining medical devices (35%), with the second-place response being for remote asset tracking. We were expecting a more patient-focused set of applications, but 73% said they had seen cost savings, and 80% reported an increase in innovation.

The fourth area that the report focused on was retail, finding that around 49% of global retailers had deployed IoT tech, with 56% adding support for personal mobile devices as a means of creating new engagement and customer service experiences. Location-based product information systems are popular, with 30% of retailers saying they had deployed them, and 18% said they were using IoT tech to monitor and control their retail environments. Some 81% said IoT had improved the overall customer experience, and 88% said it had boosted business efficiency.

The fifth and final focus was government deployments, which had seen the least amount of IoT adoption, at just 42%. Notably, 35% of IT decision makers here said their leaders had little to no understanding of IoT – a figure that HPE says is about double the global average.

HPE says its findings were encouraging, however, noting that 57% had connected building systems, 32% had connected streetlights, and 20% had connected vehicles. The most popular application is remote monitoring and control within city boundaries, named as the number one app by 27% of respondents.

While around 49% said that they were struggling to integrate legacy technologies into their emerging systems, 71% had reported cost savings, and 70% said organizational visibility had improved – meaning that in an era where city budgets are constrained, IoT technologies are likely going to prove very popular.

As for ROI, the respondent average saw 34% see ROI, with a quarter of respondents above 40% ROI, and one-in-ten scoring about 60%. Some 77% of business leaders feel that the IoT is only just beginning, and would transform business as we know it.

On the subject of defining the IoT, 67% of respondents said the IoT was “adding internet connectivity to everyday objects.” That’s a definition that differs from the one presented by Kevin Ashton, the man who is widely acknowledged to have come up with the moniker back in 1999. HPE’s Aruba wing commissioned Ashton to write ‘Making Sense of IoT,’ in conjunction with the release of the study.

Ashton’s current definition of the IoT is “sensors connected to the internet and behaving in an Internet-like way by making open, ad-hoc connections, sharing data freely and allowing unexpected applications, so computers can understand the world around them and become humanity’s nervous system.”

While Ashton’s idea seems to lean more towards open data and the absence of corporate silos (perhaps not reflective of today’s commercial mentality), other popular definitions from the survey included “a network that connects multiple objects, devices, and sensors (65%),” “a platform to connect industrial components (55%),” “automating building services (52%),” and “using wearable technology (46%).”