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Internet Of Things Faces CIO Skeptics

Majority of CIOs in six countries queried in SAP study see potential in the Internet of Things, but U.S. and U.K. respondents show more doubt than their peers.

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Do Brazil, India, Germany and China know something about the machine-to-machine movement – a.k.a. M2M, or the Internet of Things -- that the U.K. and U.S. don't? And is that knowledge driving a greater acceptance of M2M in these countries than in the U.K. and U.S.?

The Internet of Things is sometimes referred to as the next frontier of the Internet as it will supposedly spawn gigantic connections of interconnected devices that will communicate with each other via a host of on-board sensors and the mobile Internet. It's said that such a massively connected Internet of devices will allow better management and monitoring of a wide range of machinery and systems, plus usher in a new age of personalized services.

"Today, M2M technology is primarily being used to collect vast amounts of machine data," said Sanjay Poonen, president of enterprise IT giant SAP's technology solutions and mobile division. "The 'Internet of Things' goes one step further by integrating data from machines, ERP, CRM systems, social media and more, in real time, allowing humans to intelligently interact with devices, devices with devices and devices back to humans -- the ultimate social media collaboration of man and machine."

[ What will the "things" on the Internet be? Read At London Startup, Internet Of Things Meets Whiskey Bottles . ]

Yet judging from a global study of 750 CIOs' views on M2M just released by Poonen's team, not all tech execs are convinced that the Internet of Things will amount to much, at least not in the short term. Although an average of 70% of IT decision makers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, the U.K. and the U.S. agreed that companies failing to implement M2M technologies will "fall behind their competitors," almost half (43%) of U.K. respondents said that most of what they have heard about M2M is "more hype than anything else." The U.S. respondents were equally unimpressed (45%).

The U.S. and U.K. respondents also were less convinced than their counterparts that M2M will result in companies having greater insight into their business; China agreed the most with this statement (96%), followed by India (88%), with the U.S. and U.K. trailing at 74% and 61%, respectively. Both countries also were the least sure that M2M could help them "respond to real world events," with 78% and 73%, respectively, agreeing with the statement, compared with China's 92%.

The reluctance of the U.K. and the U.S. to be swept away by M2M's promise might simply be practicality. To realize a functioning Internet of Things, say both the respondents and SAP, a lot needs to happen first. A broadband infrastructure in the form of LTE/4G, senior-level support in companies, and other factors are key, said the respondents, while for Poonen, "The benefits of M2M are undeniable -- but there are barriers, such as the lack of complete multi-industry offerings, management, security and big data issues, and deficiency of suitable global connectivity solutions that are needed by multinational enterprises."

That's a note of caution echoed by Niall Murphy, founder and CEO of Anglo-Swiss firm Evrythng. "The lack of a single, unique and common standard for the Internet of Things is a barrier to progress as it forces companies to focus more on the 'how' (technical standards and protocols) rather than the 'what' (the business value from using these technologies)," he told InformationWeek.

"And let's not forget that the Internet of Things is about much more than just M2M; there's a growing realization that it also encompasses people digitally interacting with connected physical things and environments."

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