More devices, more problems? Not with IT automation

Organisations are increasingly striving to become data-driven, and rightfully so. Data provides organisations with insights around their customers and operations, making it possible to optimize their strategies and gain a competitive advantage. The fact is, if a company isn’t leveraging their data, it’s only a matter of time before it falls behind the competition.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a key source of data for many companies, with the potential to produce endless amounts of data. Not surprisingly, investment in IoT technology is skyrocketing.

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IDC estimated that worldwide IoT spending totaled $737 billion in 2016 and will grow to $1.29 trillion by 2020, while Gartner predicted it will reach nearly $2 trillion by the end of 2017. The problem is, the investment isn’t paying off for everybody – or even most. Without the ability to extract insights from the data, it doesn’t have much value.

Overcoming IoT roadblocks

A May 2017 Cisco survey of 1,845 IT and business decision-makers in the United States, United Kingdom, and India across a range of industries revealed that nearly three-fourths of IoT projects are failing. In addition, only 26% of companies have had an IoT initiative that they considered a complete success.

According to a July 2017 survey from Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu IoT operating system, 53% of companies struggle to quantify the return on investment (ROI) of their IoT projects – making it the largest IoT challenge. This is contrary to popular belief that the most significant IoT challenges are security or compliance-related.

“The early Internet of Things was something of a gold rush, with vendors and developers jumping in to secure their share of an exciting and rapidly growing new market,” said Mike Bell, executive vice president of IoT and Devices at Canonical.

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“Unfortunately, many of these businesses simply didn’t understand or evaluate how the IoT was going to deliver value – and apparently – the majority still don’t.”

In both the Cisco and Canonical studies, respondents identified challenges around integrating their data as a key inhibitor to their IoT success, whether it was integration between teams or technologies.

No surprise here; many organisations struggle to integrate IoT devices with the rest of their IT ecosystem. This makes it difficult to leverage data within disparate applications and systems, as well as share data between various teams. Fortunately, IT automation can help companies overcome this challenge.

More data, more insights with IT automation

When looking to get the most out of the data collected from IoT, the first part of the equation is getting disparate systems to talk to one another.

Often, hundreds of custom scripts are developed and implemented to connect systems that otherwise can’t communicate, but that method can be costly, error-prone and time-consuming.

Advanced IT automation solutions can make this process easier by providing pre-built integrations, which reduce the need for scripting. These solutions also provide centralized job monitoring and job scheduling capabilities, which allow organisations to maintain a central point of control when creating end-to-end workflows.

XTRA Lease, one of the largest semi-trailer rental companies in North America, is a prime example of how a company can improve its IoT initiatives with IT automation. Previously, XTRA Lease was unable to centralize its fleet of 80,000 trailers – all which produce massive amounts of data.

As described by Bob Lambrecht, former CTO of XTRA Lease: “We had no way to centrally monitor the multitude of batch jobs we were running. We had no master job schedule; no idea when certain jobs were running, when jobs failed, etc.”

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When a company chooses the right IT automation solution, it has the ability to seamlessly integrate systems and establish a central point of control for job monitoring and scheduling. In total, this makes it possible for companies to get the most out of IT investments.

XTRA Lease has benefited from the ability to more easily move data between a variety of heterogeneous business applications, including Qualcomm’s wireless communications software, which assists with trailer tracking. Lambercht says now “we run a workflow that ensures that the data at Qualcomm and the data in our transaction system matches up. This workflow goes out, compares the data, makes any necessary corrections and then pushes this information to our website. It ensures that our customers have access to the correct trailer information.”

IT automation – the key to IoT ROI

Between accelerating technology integration and improving data sharing, IT automation allows companies to generate more, deeper and faster insights around their IoT data – the ultimate objective, and the ultimate key to actually achieving a return on IoT investments.


Sourced by Jim Manias, VP, Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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