The first rule of how to do Internet of Things implementations is don’t start with the technology.
Organizations are bored of hearing what the Internet of Things is - 50 billion devices by 2050, $3 trillion in potential revenues by 2025, blah, blah, blah - instead, they want to know how to implement it.
This is understandable because it is within the how of IoT that the secrets lie:
- How to use IoT to differentiate yourself
- How to put IoT technology into context and make it work
- How to structure your IoT project
- How to fit IoT in with your current IT structure
- How to make sure your project does not get derailed
I’m sure that saying “don’t start with the technology” sounds radical coming from a technology vendor, but I will explain. The first two steps in creating a viable IoT strategy involve people and processes, not hardware and software. The third step is where you begin to get a grip on the technology.
- Have a clear understanding of what business goal you want to achieve.
The first and most important thing you need to do is to decide what your business goals are. You need to carefully define the immediate objectives of the solution, as well as understand your future business requirements.
Many IoT projects have been derailed by organizations taking on too much too soon without having defined their goals, therefore not achieving any measurable results. Often, the business side has no idea what it really wants.
An example I came across was a medical equipment vendor. Their first IoT project was to monitor a particular machine for issues in order to remotely manage downtime. What they found, however, was that these machines were already highly optimized, so the IoT was not needed for this. It was not a true business objective. Upon further reflection, they saw that the real goal was upselling services on these machines; they could use the IoT to understand how they were being used and then advise the hospitals to add useful functionality.
- Make sure everyone – from IT to business - is 100% behind the project and has clearly defined ownership.
Teamwork is essential in order to succeed in your IoT implementation. Once you define specific your business needs and goals for IoT, the IT team needs to kick in to actualize the IoT strategy –working closely with business during the process. Otherwise conflicts and crossed signals will lead to failure.
- Work with an experienced technology company, but do NOT go for an out-of-the-box solution.
Very few solution providers have end-to-end capability to implement IoT solutions, and those that claim to should be avoided. Beware of platforms that try and lock you into a single provider; you will find it difficult to use or transition to another one. Rather than offloading your project to a third party with an out-of-the-box proposal, you should involve multiple providers and encourage best-in-class in solution components provided by various expert players. Note that your innovation cycle should not depend upon your vendor’s cycle. Make sure you have in-house know-how in order to accommodate new technology within your existing architecture.
If you follow these initial “how to” guidelines, you should be able to develop relevant use cases, ones that will differentiate your offering and your company. You will avoid in-fighting between business and IT and instead see a smoother development path. And you will avoid becoming dependent upon a single vendor or third party outsourcer, making sure that your IoT strategy grows and improves along the way.