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Chief IoT Officers Are A Thing Now

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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UK firms plan to spend big on IoT and hire chief IoT officers this year

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 cybersecurity specialist Webroot and data centre organisation IO has revealed.

IoT investments

This comes as 94 percent of all UK 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 UK showed that in 2016, 60 percent of UK 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.

IoT homeNetwork 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 utilised, the type of traffic and utilisation that will flow through both datacentres’ 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 organisation. 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 organisations 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 monetise that”.

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