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IoT retail revolution opens doors for change

IoT in business is likely to be profitable – if investment and security puzzles are solved first.

By Sabrina Dougall

In no other sector does Internet of Things (IoT) tech seem more relevant than retail, where the majority of entrepreneurs believe it has already improved customer experience and increased visibility across organisations.

With Black Friday about to blow through the UK market like a storm, firms need to do all they can to entice customers with more outlets to choose from than ever before.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of enterprise organisations already deploy IoT tech, hoping a personal edge will hook a spend-ready market. This number is expected to rise to 85% by 2019, according to new research from HPE Aruba.

Examples of the networked devices include barcode readers, smartphone apps, smart speakers, display screens and audio systems. Its use cases include monitoring and maintenance as well as location-based services.IoT

Two-thirds of IT professionals surveyed defined IoT as “adding internet connectivity to everyday objects”, which is broadly in-line with the view of tech entrepreneur and author Kevin Ashton, who specifies objects with “sensors connected to the internet” which are “sharing data freely”.

Taking into account some conflicting definitions of IoT tech among participating businesses, the report nevertheless indicated mainly positive financial outcomes from its use. 88% of respondents reported a return on investment in the tech and three-quarters saw an increase in profitability.

Internet of Things technology is thought to improve business efficiency by creating a more customer-specific retail environment, therefore boosting engagement and purchasing. Four in five entrepreneurs said it improved customer experience. All the same, barriers of implementation cost and legacy integration have numerous firms hard-pressed to invest.

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Jon Moger, Senior Director at Aruba, said Internet of Things is creating “transformations in retail stores”, precipitating “the standard of the in-store experience – and consumer expectations – to increase”.

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Meaningful data analysis proved to be the Holy Grail for IT decision makers, with 97% admitting challenges when it came to creating value from insights. Most IT innovators (94%) indicated difficulties in creating business value through IoT implementation.

Whatever form IoT tech takes, network security remains a persistent issue, with a significant majority of firms (84%) reporting a security breach. A third of attacks disclosed were spyware and one in four a phishing attempt. Over half of companies (52%) hold back on signing up to Internet of Things owing to the threat of external attacks.

If networks can be secured while sensors freely receive and transmit data, IoT looks set to revolutionise the retail sector and beyond, with four in five retail companies expected to use it in some form within two years.

HPE Aruba surveyed 3100 line-of-business and IT professionals from companies of at least 500 employees in 20 countries.

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