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As technology developers continue to grow the internet of things (IoT), they create and provide new solutions that can help manufacturers improve customer service, field and plant maintenance work, inventory management, and more. However, a survey conducted by professional services firm Sikich for their 2018 Manufacturing Report found that fewer than 10 percent of respondents currently incorporate IoT technologies into their processes. Further, another 30 percent said they do not clearly understand IoT enough to determine what the costs or benefits might be to their organizations.

The report complies the survey results collected from more than 200 respondents across a broad spectrum of industrial sectors, including metal fabrication, industrial equipment, food and beverage, OEM equipment, chemicals and petroleum, automotive, plastics, and wholesale distribution.

“Manufacturers of all sizes can benefit from the IoT, but too many lack the necessary understanding of the benefits and fail to embrace these transformative technologies,” said Jerry Murphy, partner-in-charge of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice. “As a result, many manufacturers and distributors miss out on significant operational improvements and efficiency gains across the supply chain, which can put them at a competitive disadvantage.”

The survey also shows that reluctance to incorporate technological advancements that extends beyond IoT deployment. The report also shows that nearly 40 percent of respondents don’t use robotics for any of their operations.

Additionally, the report revealed warning signs for manufacturers when it comes to protecting their data and intellectual property. Though more than three-fourths of respondents said they had not experienced a cybersecurity incident in the last 12 to 18 months, only 19 percent of respondents say they are “very ready” to address cybersecurity risk. Sixty-three percent of respondents believe they are only “somewhat ready.”

“Cybersecurity threats will only increase as technology becomes even more integrated into manufacturing operations,” said Brad Lutgen, a partner in Sikich’s security and compliance practice. “That’s especially true given the rapid adoption of IoT devices. Manufacturers must therefore have security programs in place to address the ever-changing threats. At a minimum, a company’s program should include conducting regular risk assessments, penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to gauge its current security posture. Manufacturers should also put in place vendor management programs to vet third-party technologies to make sure that vendors adequately test for security vulnerabilities.”

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