IT decision makers were split when it came to deciding who should lead a real or hypothetical IoT initiative and who is likely to be the buyer of solutions to make it happen, according to V3 sister publication Computing's latest research programme into the Internet of Things (IoT).
Research by Computing into related areas, such as Big Data and DevOps, found that the most widely held view was that projects should be initiated and owned by senior business executives rather than IT teams. However, on IoT Computing found less of a consensus.
Fifty-three per cent stated that the leader of a project should have an IT strategy background, whereas 39 per cent believed they should have data/analytics/developer experience.
Thirty-six per cent thought a business background was imperative, and one-third of respondents thought the same about a technical/operational or mechanical grounding. The lack of a consensus is indicative of the fact that IoT requires a differing range of skill sets to that of more traditional IT projects.
As one respondent from a legal background stated, IoT requires "a lot of physicality". They added: "You've got to get the people, [and] you've got to get the sensors out there, which is a physical thing."
Placing sensors on infrastructure, getting them to communicate the right information, and then acting on the feedback may not be skills the average IT team possesses for the whole process. A head architect at a construction company suggested that engineers had to be involved, too.
"They may not be specialists in processing the data, they might be bridge or tunnel engineers, traffic-planning specialists, etc. The process, then, is somewhat iterative as you may first look at the data you do have as useful insights [but] that may be informed by the engineering specialist," the architect said.
The findings echo consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser CIO Darrell Stein's assertion that there isn't necessarily a 'go-to person' for the IoT. Reckitt Benckiser has a mini-team that includes employees from IT, R&D and marketing - but none of the departments necessarily head the team.
"What we're trying to get away from is silos," said Stein. "So you have marketing people knowing about IT, and IT people knowing about marketing. Everyone's jobs are fusing together in teams to solve these problems. So I don't care if it's someone in marketing or products or IT [who heads an IoT project]."
Computing also asked IT decision makers who they thought was likely to be the main buyer in an IoT initiative. This time, someone with a business background came out on top with 45 per cent, someone with an IT strategy background was second with 35 per cent and a technical/operational/mechanical skill set came third with 30 per cent. Only a minority (12 per cent) believed that someone with a data/analytics/developer background would be likely to be the buyer.
About the research
The research included the views of IT decision makers representing organisations ranging in size from a minimum of 100 employees to enterprises comprising many thousands. Numerous industries were represented, including banking and finance, technology, healthcare, education and media.
After individual in-depth interviews with IT practitioners to ensure the questions being asked were relevant, as well as two focus group sessions, Computing commissioned a nationwide, online quantitative study that was completed by more than 350 IT decision makers. A final round of interviews was conducted with other IT decision makers to provide further feedback and validation.
For the full results of Computing's research and to hear how companies are exploiting IoT, come along to V3 sister site Computing's Internet of Things Business Summit on Thursday 12 May in London. It's free for qualifying end users - but places are running out.
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