In a recent report, McKinsey shared the findings from a survey of IoT practitioners at 300 businesses with mature IoT programs (those that have expanded beyond pilot projects) Their focus was on what distinguishes leaders from laggards.

At a high level leaders are more aggressive, better at aligning a common sense of direction, and more practical in execution.

Be aggressive

  • Implement lots of use cases
  • Change business processes to unlock the IoT’s value
  • Use advanced end points

Maintain a common sense of direction

  • Define how the IoT will create value
  • Spur action from the C-suite
  • Mobilize the entire company

Be practical in execution

  • Start with existing offerings
  • Tap into an ecosystem of partners
  • Prepare for cyberattacks so they don’t slow things down

At Mender.io, we see the same in our daily interactions with users who considers device lifecycle and security, and the ones who don’t. Especially, the findings around being practical in execution speak to our experience.

Tap into an ecosystem of partners

According to the McKinsey report, “The preferences of IoT leaders suggest a greater willingness to draw capabilities from an ecosystem of technology partners, rather than rely on homegrown capabilities”.

In the early days of CFEngine, we often competed against homegrown solutions. CFEngine is an automation solution for IT operations. At the time we even came across companies that wanted to deploy inexpensive offshore labor instead of investing in automation software.

Today, no one in the world of IT-operations and DevOps considers to write their own automation solution, or throw manual labor at the problems. IoT leaders should have every reason to believe the same will happen in the IoT industry. It might make sense to continue to use homegrown solutions for already field deployed products, but it is time to stop using homegrown for new greenfield projects.

To learn more about the reasons for not continuing to use homegrown, here is a more in-depth article covering the topic of why homegrown is a bad idea. In addition, at Mender.io we made a whitepaper on the hidden costs of a homegrown solutions.

Prepare for cyberattacks so they don’t slow things down

Cyberattacks are real, and they hurt. According to the McKinsey report both IoT leaders and laggards say that they suffer similar consequences from cyberattacks. 30 percent of respondents said that a cyberattack had resulted in high to severe damage.

Unfortunately, many companies prefer to experience the pain of a cyberattack before accepting the need to address the threat properly.

As with homegrown, it is just a question of time before there is a collective change in behavior. The smart IoT leaders know this, hence take the costs associated with preemptive cybersecurity measures into the design of their IoT project.

Start today, avoid the pain tomorrow

My prediction is that soon authorities around the world will start to put cybersecurity preemptiveness into the law. In similar ways that seatbelts are mandatory in cars, minimum security measures will be required for internet connected devices. We have seen it for personal data with GDPR. Once enough trouble surfaces to the politicians, actions will be taken. In November, the House in U.S. passed the SMART IoT Act. Soon more legislation will follow.

IoT leaders are practical in their execution, and they keep accelerating away from the laggards. Reports like the one referred to in this article, is just one of many pointing out the differences between the ones who get it and the ones who don’t.

For laggards, the good news is that the measures needed to adopt best-practices are still fairly low-hanging fruit, they just need to be prioritized.

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