Innovation of Things, not the Internet of Things will drive real innovation and transformation

Posted on Posted in FAQs, Innovation Management, Internet of Things, IoT

Are you ready? The Internet of Things (IoT) is here and its ability to drive new innovation will be huge.

By 2020, analysts estimate that $470 billion will be spent on hardware, software and solutions, with 30.7 billion devices deployed. At the same time, investment in Industrial IoT will exceed $60 trillion by 2030. (Source: Roundup of Internet of Things Forecasts and Market Estimates 2016, Forbes Magazine, November 27, 2016).

The only thing bigger than the estimates is the hype. There is no shortage of news about new innovations, smart homes, smart cities, self-driving cars, and digital enterprises. All of a sudden, everyone is in the IoT business. Every vendor offers “smart” products, platforms and solutions. At a recent IoT expo, I saw more than 20 vendors selling IoT platforms. One vendor even admitted they simply added “IoT” to their marketing.

Today = Internet of Things

So how much is real and how much is hype? While today’s IoT solutions are interesting, we have not yet seen their true impact and transformative power. Today’s IoT are “point” solutions. They offer limited utility and solve a small set of problems. These products create “islands” of data that are not shared with other devices. They operate as independent units and do not play well with others.

Tomorrow = Innovation of Things

Don’t be fooled by the marketing. The real hype is what IoT can do and not what it is. The real innovation is not in the solution. It’s in what they allow the organizations to become – innovative, agile, and adaptive. What if

  • Organizations re-imagine the customer engagement experience?
  • Business models change to create an entire new class of products, services and capabilities?
  • Data analysts combine new sources to create deeper insights?
  • Managers create operational processes that are data driven, adaptive, and agile?

When this happens, the connected organization will become a true digital organization.

The Internet of Things become the Innovation of Things when:

  • Different IoT devices work together as one throughout the organization
  • The technology platform collects, analyzes and shares information across the IoT ecosystem
  • Machine learning integrates with data analysis for autonomous decision-making and optimization
  • Managers build infrastructure and processes around, not on top of, the enabling technology and IoT platform
  • The customer engagement experience creates new business processes, policies and organization structures


Key Management Takeaways – Innovation of Things

What can you do to get started? I’ve listed five takeaways for managers below.

Don’t confuse IoT with innovation. IoT enables innovation, but is not innovation by itself. It creates change and value when it is integrated with other devices, processes and teams across the organization.

Put the Innovation in IoT. Identify the biggest pain points and gains (productivity, experience, cost reduction, speed, etc.). Re-imagine processes, policies, and teams. Start with a clean sheet and ask what you could do if you had the data. Then ask your teams, customers, suppliers and channel partners.

Source innovation ideas.  Create a process to source and vet ideas from employees, suppliers, channel partners, and customers, regardless of title or roles. Innovation comes from anyone, anywhere and any time.

Start small and learn. The Innovation of Things doesn’t happen overnight. Start with small projects and add an IoT element to it. Create quick wins to gain experience, confidence, support, and knowledge of what is possible. Run small tests, measure and learn, learn, learn. Fail fast, learn fast, and try again.

Upgrade your data management capabilities. The innovation of things is all about data, data and more data. Assess your organization’s expertise, tools, data sources, and types. Then build a strategic plan to update your capabilities over time.


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