The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) presents tremendous opportunity in all the industry verticals and business domains. Specifically, the ‘Industrial Internet of Things’(IIoT) promises to increase the value proposition by making self-optimizing business processes. As discussed in the post “The Driving Forces Behind IoT”, there are several challenges to be addressed to realize the full IoT potentials, but following steps will help organizations systemically make their products participate in the IoT journey and stay in the IoT race. These steps will help in modernize their existing products or to define strategies to build futuristic products.
5 Steps of the IoT race
Analyze the product and services for their strengths and weaknesses. Analyze the sensing and acting capabilites of the products, or in other words, see what ambient information the product can sense and how it can be actuated, or how it can listen to the instructions. Analyze the integrated, embedded services/components of the product and benchmark the product on usability, self-service capability, optimizations, minimal human interference, etc. Research what your competitors are offering and the customer experience.
Define a clear IoT vision for your organization and address where do you want to stand, what are your targets, whom you want to compete with, and then define your IoT vision for the products and services aligned to your organization.
Plan the ROI in terms of projected financials, reductions in –ve ROI (human training, involvement, etc.), and innovation. Consider complete eco-system for the products and services provided internally or externally by partners, suppliers, and dealers. Plan the roadmap for achieving the IoT vision.
Once the preparation is over, you should have a clear vision and roadmap. Now it’s time to register for the IoT race by engaging each of the stakeholders (internal as well as external) to the IoT program. Declare your participation in the IoT race by letting your employees, customers, and partners know about benefits derived from the new vision. Collect views from the stakeholder and adjust the IoT program such that it also meets the expectations of the stakeholders.
During the warm-up, you should be able to complete the technology exploration and feasibility studies. Define a common framework to generate consistent output and incorporate feedback. The framework should include processes for building various proofs of concept for the integrated product with potential sensory architecture, cloud platforms, data storage, communication protocols and networks. The framework should also have processes to plan the development of pilot projects and get feedback on them. If needed, new devices (such as mobile phones, smart glasses, wearables, or BYOD) may be introduced here to enhance the customer experiences.
Once you are done with the warm-up, you know the potential approaches to be followed and the devices to be bought into the game. Now you need to plan for the step-by-step development of the product features with a highly agile and flexible methodology, keeping the deployment as small as possible such that we derive the benefits inclemently, and also incorporating the feedback at the same time. The implementation process also needs to be optimized from time to time by building accelerators, monitors, and tools that may help in speeding up the implementation, such as building reusable components, frameworks, standards, guidelines, best practices and checklists.
5. Stay Ahead
While delivering the product features, also plan for their scaling. Develop SDKs to implement extensions and plugins on the product features. Call for the new/existing partners and service integrators to customize and enrich your product. Let the partner eco-system exploit the product capability.
Hopefully, these five steps will jump start your IoT journey and keep you in the race as a front runner. At every step, feedback is really important — every investment need to be well validated against ROI and then well-rehearsed in by pilot implementation and well-exploited by partners. In the end, it will be a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.