The 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcased a number of new IoT devices for the home and the office, including smart appliances and digital assistants. Gartner predicts that more than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of IoT by 2020.
However, TechRepublic's CIO Jury was split on whether or not they would move forward with IoT implementations in the near future. When asked "Will your company invest in IoT in 2017?," six of our panelists said yes, while six said no.
"Yes, definitely," said Dan Fiehn, group IT director at Markerstudy Group. "I see IoT becoming a differentiator, and those choosing not to invest losing market share to those that do."
"Just as smart technology takes over home management, we expect to see an increase in office applications," said Dan Gallivan, director of IT at Payette. This includes tracking conference room usage, temperature monitoring and adjustments based on employee use and occupancy, people traffic, and area workflows, he added. "I expect this area to grow tremendously with the possible scenarios," Gallivan said.
Michael Hanken, vice president of IT at Multiquip Inc., said his team is planning its first IoT project with equipment in the field.
On the other side, Ted Woodhouse, a specialist ICT consultant, said he cautions businesses not to jump into IoT solutions. "IoT seems to me to be a classic example of doing something because you can, not because you need to," he said. "We'll keep watching, but we will not be advising clients to move in this direction for at least six months, and probably at least a year or more."
Simon Johns, IT director for Sheppard Robson Architects LLP, said it's "very unlikely" that his company will invest in IoT this year. "I would like our meeting/conference rooms to be voice controlled, but Alexa isn't cutting it for us just yet," Johns said.
Meanwhile, Jeff Focke, director of IT at Shealy Electrical Wholesalers, said IoT is "not strategic" for his business at this point in time.
Many companies may already be using IoT devices without realizing it, according to David Wilson, director of IT services at VectorCSP. "Anyone who orders a new mobile device, or a wireless printer, or sets up a fitness program so their employees can count their steps on fitness trackers, is already using IoT devices," Wilson said. "Nearly everyone is already using it, aware or not."
Indeed, in last month's CIO Jury, 83% of tech professionals reported that their companies allowed wearable technology in the workplace.
And, a 2016 Tech Pro Research study found that IoT devices were being used or implemented for use in 32% of organizations, and planned in another 35%. The most common uses for IoT devices were surveillance equipment, RFID chips/tags, and building controls, the study found.
The spread of IoT devices in the office raises substantial security threats for companies, Joel Reidenberg, founding academic director of the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham University, recently told TechRepublic, "in that they become tools for the exfiltration of confidential business data very easily."
No matter their IoT implementation plans, IT and business leaders need to be aware of what devices are deployed in their office, and set rules for employees on what is allowed in the workplace, Reidenberg said.
This month's CIO Jury was:
Michael Hanken, vice president of IT, Multiquip Inc.
Dan Fiehn, group IT director, Markerstudy Group
Mike S. Ferris, global IT director of infrastructure, Lincoln Electric
Dan Gallivan, director of IT, Payette
Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
N'Gai Oliveras Arroyo, IT director, Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico
Jeff Focke, director of IT, Shealy Electrical Wholesalers
Muhammad Azfar Latif, head of IT, product management division, United Bank Limited
David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
Ted Woodhouse, specialist ICT consultant
Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
Lance Taylor-Warren, CIO, Community Health Alliance
Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot denisco at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.
- Sensor industry to grow to $162 billion thanks to IoT, smart cities and eHealth (TechRepublic)
- The Internet of Things companies to watch (ZDNet)
- How to secure your IoT devices from botnets and other threats (TechRepublic)
- A third of wearable devices abandoned by consumers: Gartner (ZDNet)
- 9 IoT global trends for 2017 (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.