CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
January 17, 2020
Forward Thinking

Enterprise intelligence gains steam in 2019

More firms are on the path to becoming "intelligent" compared to last year, driven by IoT investments and an increase in IT spending, company study shows.

Technological transformation continues to shape the supply chain, according to a recent study of the "intelligent" enterprise by logistics technology provider Zebra Technologies Corp. The firm released its 2019 Intelligent Enterprise Index this week, revealing that 61% of enterprises worldwide are on the path to becoming "intelligent," compared to just 49% in 2018. 

The global study of 950 IT decision makers from health care, manufacturing, retail, and transportation and logistics industries analyzed the extent to which companies connect the physical and digital worlds to "drive innovation through real-time guidance, data-powered environments, and collaborative mobile workflows," according to Zebra's researchers. The firm's "intelligent enterprise" index scores are calculated using 11 criteria, including IoT vision, adoption, data management, and intelligent analysis. Results reveal where organizations are as a whole, and by industry vertical. 

The findings reveal that retailers are gaining the most momentum in the race toward intelligence, advancing from the bottom of the list to nearly the top--second only to the healthcare industry. Manufacturers are making strides as well, with 76% of manufacturing respondents saying they expect to move to company-wide deployment of IoT solutions, the most of any industry surveyed and more than 10% higher than healthcare and transportation and logistics. Overall, the study found that organizations are increasing their IT spend considerably in order to gain competitive advantage; the overall average spend is $6.4 million, up 39% year-over-year, according to the study.

Other findings, according to the researchers, include: 

  • The pace of IoT adoption is picking up, leading to increasingly greater intelligence levels. The cumulative Intelligent Enterprise Index score continues to grow as more companies move from exploratory to deployment phases of their journeys, with the 2019 score topping out at 61.5 points. This represents a nearly 6-point increase from 2018, driven largely by the increased "intelligence" gains of retail and transportation and logistics (T&L) organizations. It is also a more than 9-point gain from 2017, the first year the index was conducted.
  • Growth continues in IoT solutions and other data-driven technology platform investments. In 2019, each respondent's average enterprise spend was $6.4 million, representing a 39% year-over-year increase. Eighty-six percent of enterprises expect this number to grow in the next one to two years, with more than half of respondents expecting to increase their investments by 21% to more than 50%.
  • Intelligence-driven solution deployments have broadened considerably. Forty-six percent of study respondents say they are implementing their IoT solutions on a company-wide level, an increase from 38% in 2018. Another 32% say they expect to soon move toward regional deployments.
  • With security a top priority, enterprises are committing more resources to continuous data system monitoring. Sixty-two percent of enterprises are now constantly monitoring their IoT security to ensure system integrity and data privacy. That is a 4-percentage point gain year-over-year and a 13-percentage point increase from 2017. 
  • Enterprises are shifting to a single partner "intelligent" solution ecosystem. Nearly half (49%) of study respondents indicate they now rely on a single strategic partner to manage their entire "intelligence" solution, including components and services provided by third parties.
  • Surveyed small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) score higher on the index than large companies (64.5 points vs 61.5 points). This higher score is based on findings such as SMB respondents indicating their enterprises are more likely to have an IoT vision and are executing on the plan (69% vs 62%).

Zebra's online study was conducted August 12 through September 18, 2019.

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