Research Approach

The design of this study began in December 2014, when we looked at the ‘white space’ in the market on the topic of the Internet of Things. Quite a bit had already been published on the topic. That content ranged from articles by authors such as the eminent Harvard Business School strategy professor Michael Porter (who co-authored a cover Harvard Business Review article with PTC CEO Jim Heppelmann on the IoT), to studies conducted by McKinsey & Co., IBM, Capgemini, Accenture, and other consulting and IT services firms.

That required us to explore aspects of IoT that had not been explored or were underexplored. Thus, we designed this study to look at four areas where most businesses have been investigating or using IoT technologies to date:

  • Tracking their customers
  • Tracking their products
  • Tracking their premises
  • Tracking their supply chains

We focused our inquiry with six overarching questions:

  1. How are large global companies around the world using the smart, connected products that they sell to customers (businesses and consumers) to create new businesses and revenue sources?
  2. How much are their organizations spending on IoT initiatives today and what are their spending plans for the next three years? Where are they spending that money?
  3. How are they improving the ways they service, create demand for, and supply their current offerings?
  4. How are they improving their products and services as a result of having IoT embedded in them, as well as from tracking customers, the locations in which they do business with those customers, and their supply chains?
  5. What do they plan to do on these fronts during the next five years (to 2020)?
  6. What are the key success factors in getting business benefits from IoT initiatives?