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Achieving ROI trumps security as the IoT industry’s biggest challenge

While security concerns continue to grab headlines, business benefits and ROI are the top-ranked challenges for IoT professionals today

London, 19 July 2017 – Despite over 23,000 articles* being written about IoT security in the last 12 months, it’s ensuring a return on investment that represents the biggest challenge for IoT professionals in 2017. That’s according to a new ‘Defining IoT Business Models’ research whitepaper from Canonical – the company behind Ubuntu Core, the IoT operating system.

The report, which surveyed over 360 IoT professionals including developers, vendors, and enterprise users, highlights that – despite a widespread focus on IoT security – 53% believe “quantifying ROI and providing a clear use case” is their most immediate IoT challenge. As an industry concern, this places defining the return on investment above both the lack of available infrastructure (40%) and the need for improved device security (45%).

Despite the IoT industry now being valued at more than $900 billion1, it’s clear that many businesses still don’t understand how to turn a profit or gain genuine business benefits from the internet of things. According to Canonical’s research, 34% of IoT professionals also believe that “quantifying the business benefits” of the internet of things should be their number one priority to encourage greater IoT adoption.

Biggest immediate challenges faced by IoT professionals

  • Quantifying ROI – 53%
  • Device security and privacy – 45%
  • Lack of IoT infrastructure – 40%
  • Lack of budget/investment in IoT – 34%
  • Ensuring integration with the wider ecosystem – 29%
  • Device management / long-term support – 26%
  • Resistance from within the organisation – 25%
  • Ensuring regular updates are installed – 12%

Commenting on these findings, Mike Bell, EVP of IoT and Devices at Canonical said, “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. 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.

“As we move towards 2018, businesses are looking for new ways to ensure that their investments in the IoT are driving financial growth and that their business models will remain sustainable in the years to come. At the forefront of this is a change in the way that businesses monetise the internet of things. Where once, people planned to monetise the IoT through device sales, we are now increasingly moving towards a software defined business model for IoT. With IoT specific operating systems, such as Ubuntu Core, allowing users to install new functionality onto their products, a growing number of businesses are now relying on IoT app stores to generate new revenues and increase their ROI. Through this new model, IoT users – whether corporate, industrial or consumer – can receive the latest features without having to buy a whole new device. This not only provides greater security and functionality for consumers, but also provides a long-term revenue source. With this in mind, businesses shouldn’t need to see ROI as their biggest challenge for the IoT, if anything, it should be their biggest opportunity.”

To download Canonical’s Defining IoT Business Models research whitepaper click here.



  1. McKinsey & Company, 2016


The Defining IoT Business Models report incorporates original research, commissioned by Canonical and conducted by independent industry publication IoTNow. The research surveyed 361 people from IoTNow’s database of registered IoT professionals. *As part of this research, Canonical also ran a media analysis using the Meltwater news monitoring tool. This found that 23,000 English language articles and news stories have been published on the topic of IoT security between June 2016 and June 2017.

About Canonical

Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu, the leading OS for cloud operations. Most public cloud workloads use Ubuntu, as do most new smart gateways, switches, self-driving cars and advanced robots. Canonical provides enterprise support and services for commercial users of Ubuntu.

Established in 2004, Canonical is a privately held company.

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