For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) is bringing the necessary capabilities for connected products, assets and supply chains. Through IoT, manufacturers can leverage a combination of software, sensors and IP-enabled connectivity to change products and processes.

A new IDC PlanScape, “The IoT Foundation for Connected Products, Assets and Supply Chains in Manufacturing”, offers practical guidance to help IT and business leaders in manufacturing justify investment in IoT and an IoT foundation for incremental improvements and transformation.

IDC Manufacturing Insights practice director Kimerly Knickle, says: “Developing a roadmap for IoT and an IoT foundation will ensure that the investments satisfy manufacturers IT and business expectations. IT organisations can and should play an important role in an efficient and agile rollout of IoT across the various use cases in manufacturing.”

The new IDC PlanScape offers a decision-making tool to help IT professionals plan the evolution of the IT operations architecture to virtualised networks. It helps to assure business value from technology by establishing a business case, identifying risk factors, and outlining critical success factors.

IoT is an essential innovation accelerator for manufacturers. By implementing an IoT foundation, manufacturers have the opportunity to increase their real-time visibility into their own operations as well as into their customers’ operations; from the analysis of that information, manufacturers can develop the insights they need to change how they generate revenue and profit, whether that’s through more data-driven execution or new products and services.

“We expect manufacturers to eventually weave IoT into many of their products and processes. Today, manufacturers should invest in providing the business with access to IoT technology elements they need to drive experimentation and increasing adoption. Sharing tools and technologies across the business will allow the investments and best practices to be shared more easily across departments and requirements,” adds Knickle.

According to IDC data, 56% of manufacturers in the US are researching or piloting IoT for business benefits such as lowering operational costs, improving customer service and support, acquiring new customers, and increasing business process efficiencies. IDC asserts that manufacturers need to move forward with pilots and simultaneously develop an IoT foundation and roadmap.

To help manufacturers employ the best approach to IoT and the IoT foundation for their business, IDC offers the following guidance:

* Identify goals;
* Take inventory;
* Set priorities;
* Educate and engage key stakeholders; and
* Test pilot.

IDC asserts that it is absolutely critical for manufacturers to take an iterative view of their investments in IoT. There are immediate benefits that can be achieved by investing today, but manufacturers should also recognise that the market is still evolving and changing. Manufacturers must consider IoT an investment that requires frequent monitoring and modification. To do so, the new report offers manufacturers guidance on how to move forward with IoT successfully over the next 18 months.