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March 22, 2016updated 04 Sep 2016 11:20pm

Microsoft: Data distrust between customer and vendor is holding back IoT business adoption

Q&A: CBR speaks to Steve Dunbar, IoT commercial director at Microsoft, on the challenges and issues businesses are facing when implementing IoT strategies.

By Joao Lima

A recent survey by analyst firm Gartner has found that 29% of organisations worldwide are using IoT as part of their strategy.

Of a total of 465 IT and business professionals, 14% said their companies are planning to implement IoT in the next 12 months, with an additional 21% intending to do so after 2016.

In January, CBR spoke to HCL Technologies’ global head of IoT practice, Sukamal Banerjee, who said time will run out in the next six to eight months for companies that have not tapped into the IoT game and that it is critical that companies understand that without IoT, they will "cease to exist".

Despite those warnings, Steve Dunbar, IoT commercial director at Microsoft, told CBR that IoT adoption is still slow. One of the key factors in this slow uptake is trust, specifically trust in data.

"Customers must trust a vendor with their personal data. No one has really done this yet, which is why we have not seen more uptake in implementations [by businesses]."

According to Dunbar, ROI calculation is also one of the biggest barriers to IoT adoption amongst businesses.

"As with any new technology trend, it is hard to put a value or ROI against it. This is certainly one of the current barriers to adoption, as businesses are finding it difficult to communicate immediate returns on an implementation."

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He said that this means IoT needs to be sold into the business, not just the IT department.

"This is further proof that IoT, and IT generally, is a boardroom conversation now," Dunbar said.

Another challenge is the fact that IoT cloud services must integrate into environments with devices designed and deployed a decade or more apart.

"Businesses with digital transformation strategies will thrive. This way, they can ensure that new devices are integrated alongside legacy infrastructure and devices", Dunbar said.

When it comes to security, he said that the predominant factors driving concerns in the business world are a "lack of trust in cloud platforms today, tiny real-time operating systems and legacy protocols".

He said the IoT has been a term used fervently throughout the IT industry for some time now, but it is now becoming more of a reality.

Dunbar said the IoT is designed to be a practical and applicable technology trend that is enabling savvy companies to generate ROI and drive efficiencies and insights.

"To date, we have seen small implementations take place, as businesses start small by connecting a few things in a few locations to understand the value and total of cost of ownership.

"IoT is slowly being realised, with organisations capitalising on the power of cloud computing and benefitting from new analytics tools as part of an IoT suite.

"It starts by building on what businesses already have in place, using familiar devices and services in new ways, and incorporating the right technology to ultimately help you use data to create insights and make more informed business decisions."

Despite this, many businesses that are interested in implementing IoT strategies are still in the proof of concept stage, according to Dunbar.

"Essentially, this means that at present, we are acting as consultants and advisers to current and prospective customers who are thinking about implementing such strategies."

However, despite the barriers posed by IoT, Dunbar has no doubt that IoT technology will fulfil its potential and revolutionise business and everyday life.

"As with previous technologies that have become ubiquitous, IoT will transform and become part and parcel of everyday life, and it will not be called IoT, it will become ingrained in our personal and professional lives."

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