Five things managers should do first in an emerging IoT market

Posted on Posted in Digital Transformation, Internet of Things, IoT, Strategy

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to transform the way we live, work and play. There is no lack of IoT platforms, business models, and innovative products in the market today. However, today’s products are still immature point solutions. From technology standards, to business models, IoT is still evolving, and will continue to evolve over the next few years. It will be years before the “winners” emerge. A recent article in ZDNet gives a nice “state of IoT” for enterprise managers.

Given the immature state of IoT, what should transformation, business and IT managers do today?

Here are five things that you can do now, as you plan and deploy your IoT strategies and projects. These are:

Learn the basics

Your journey starts with a knowledge of the IoT building blocks. No matter what solutions you consider, you want to know enough to ask the right questions. I use the “follow the data” framework. Trace the data flow, from capture, processing and action. Ask the following:

  • Once the data is captured by the sensor, where does it go?
  • How does it get from the “edge” sensors to the systems at the core? How does it get from the core to the user, who uses the information to do something?
  • Who touches the data and why?
  • How is the data transformed during this process?
  • What are the protocols used? Which ones are based on open standards, which are proprietary, and which are still to be “standardized”?

Fix the gaps in your foundation

While IoT evolves, challenges remain no matter what solutions emerge. These include security, integration, data management (collect, transform, and store), and analytics.

As you plan your strategy, identify gaps in your infrastructure, core skills, tools and resources. Build a plan to address these challenges before you implement your first IoT projects.

Experiment, learn and adapt

At this early stage, there are no right answers, no winning business models, and no “tried and true” IoT recipes to follow. Don’t try to predict the future. Today’s immature products may not grow with your organization’s needs. Focus instead on using today’s IoT products to experiment with and learn from. Accept failure and limitations. Learn from those experiences. Adapt the lessons learned and repeat. Start small and add a small IoT pilot to existing projects. Don’t over-invest or over-commit. Plan small projects across the organization and scale over time.

Establish a culture of learning

Prioritize IoT learning projects

Don’t rely on the criteria reserved for more established solutions, such as ROI and cost, when considering potential projects. This will lead to a portfolio of projects in which IoT is at the bottom of the priority list.

With early IoT projects, your main goal is to learn, experiment and uncover challenges. This helps you build the criteria for evaluating IoT projects and building the new digital roadmap. Consider projects based on the following:

  • Learning value and skill building
  • Project scaling
  • Cross functional
  • Problem type solved
  • Feedback
  • Company impact
  • Integration and interoperability

Solve IoT problemBuild “information” innovation

The real innovation begins when the Internet of Things become the Innovation of Things. This happens when you get the data you need to re-imagine customer engagement experiences.

Information innovation plays a key role in the Innovation of Things. Ask yourself, if you could build a new user or customer engagement experience:

  • What data do I need that I don’t have today?
  • Where should that data come from? Where? How?
  • After I get the data, what do I need to do to transform it? Do I need to combine it with data from other sources?
  • What other devices, processes, and people would need the new transformed data?
  • What’s the best way to deliver this transformed data?
  • What processes, technology, policies, organizations need to change with this data?

Take this time to put together an information innovation strategy and roadmap. Work across the organization to create cross-functional teams to define this roadmap. Review it on a regular basis to ensure that your organization’s data needs are being met.

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