Internet of Things early adopters encouraged by Gartner

CIOs are being encouraged to develop a better understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) now, so they will be well-placed to take advantage of the anticipated economic benefits it will bring.

That's the view of market watcher Gartner, who defines the IoT as a network of physical objects containing embedded technology that interact with their internal states or the external environment.

By understanding the various classes of devices that will likely populate the Internet of Things, the CIO will be well-placed to spot additional opportunities.

The analyst said the rise of IoT, and the vast amounts of real-time data it will generate, should create "huge untapped business opportunities", but IT leaders will need to get a handle on the concept first to take advantage of them.

Stephen Prentice, vice president and Gartner Fellow, said the IoT will create a "very large to huge" volume of business opportunities.

"Manufacturing opportunities, deployment, activation and ongoing management of millions of devices, and the analytical opportunities arising from massive streams of potentially real-time information all represent huge untapped business opportunities," said Prentice.

"Business and IT leaders should explore these developments, and focus not on what is new and different, but look more closely at what is essentially the same as existing business processes."

However, Hung LeHong, research vice president at Gartner, said the current crop of business-focused IoT applications are not compelling enough to convince business decision makers to invest in it.

"Existing serious' enterprise applications seem worlds apart from the apparently consumer-focused Internet of Things buzz," he offered.

"However, over the past decade, the consumerisation of IT has increasingly encroached on enterprise sceptics would be well-advised to monitor these consumer-facing [IoT] developments closely."

Furthermore, Gartner said the array of IoT applications out there is so broad, business decision makers might struggle to find any that appear to be a good fit for the needs of their organisation.

Despite this, IT leaders are described as a "natural entry point" for IoT in the enterprise, because they can use their insights to determine where connected devices would benefit the organisation as a whole, and create new revenue streams.

"By understanding the various classes of devices that will likely populate the Internet of Things, the CIO will be well-placed to spot additional opportunities or see similarities that business colleagues may overlook," said Gartner's Prentice.

"By ignoring the details of each application and looking instead at the underlying characteristics of the different device types and how they can populate an Internet of Things infrastructure, the CIO or IT leader can bring clarity and insight to what appears to be a very confused set of possibilities," he concluded.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.