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IoT deployment status report: Businesses face change management obstacles

A new IoT deployment survey from Zebra Technologies suggests businesses have solid visions but are faltering around change management.

Organizations have strong IoT visions, are well underway with IoT projects and expect IoT investments to increase, but they have room for improvement when it comes to ensuring robust change management initiatives associated with IoT deployments, according to a recent survey from Zebra Technologies.

More than half of the 908 IT decision-makers surveyed indicated that they had an IoT vision and are currently executing on their IoT plans, with most spending an average of $3.1 million on IoT investments annually, according to the survey. They also expect that their spending on IoT deployment will increase over the next 12 to 24 months.

However, some 50% expect internal resistance to adopting those IoT solutions and are either still developing a plan or don’t have a plan to address that resistance, according to the survey.

“Communication is key – it goes beyond just emails; it needs to come from the top down. With anything new, there is a challenge to adopt, but within that challenge there’s opportunity,” said Matt Kowalski, senior manager for marketing and business operations and chief technology officer at Zebra Technologies. “If there’s a cultural resistance, you need that ice breaker to show [for instance] how it’ll make peoples’ jobs easier and more efficient.”

Of those respondents who indicated that their organizations had plans to address change management-related obstacles, the most popular methods include educating employees on the impact the solution will have on roles and workflows, educating employees on the value proposition of the solution and putting formal training plans in place, according to the survey. A majority of organizations are sharing the information gathered from their IoT solutions with employees more than once a day, with more than two-thirds sharing it in real time. Sending that information via email is the preferred method, according to the survey.

In all, the survey aimed to dig deeper into organizations’ maturity level toward becoming an intelligent enterprise – a concept developed by industry leaders, including Zebra Technologies’ executives, last year during the “Strategic Innovation Symposium: The Intelligent Enterprise event held at Harvard University. The group developed a list of 11 metrics aimed to measure maturity toward becoming an intelligent enterprise – connecting the physical and digital worlds to improve efficiencies, visibility and growth. The survey aimed to drill into those metrics, which include areas like IoT security, infrastructure, vision, change management and more.

Zebra Technologies makes hardware bar code scanners, mobile computers, RFID readers and printers for four main vertical industries: retail, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and healthcare. In September, the company unveiled its Savanna technology, “a building block platform” that includes IoT endpoint connectivity, configuration management, data transport, data storage, analytics and machine learning components. It’s in the process of working with early adopters on use cases. 

Given the company’s customer base, it’s not surprising that respondents ranked bar code technology, mobile computing and mobile phones as the top solutions their organizations had in place to gather IoT data, and they placed cloud and analytics as the most important pieces of infrastructure to have in place to help process and make sense of that data.

Some 70% of respondents said the largest driver in their IoT investment is improving customer experience, and the largest expected future drivers were increasing revenue and expanding into new markets.

“They see the future. It’s finding a way to unlock customer value. I think IoT can certainly do that,” Kowalski said.

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