Where Does IoT Start?
In most organizations, it’s found that an individual contributor, often a developer or engineer, takes on IoT development as a pet project. A number of ideas are played around with and tested. Some developers just want to check, whether they can build an IoT-enabled product.
This is where great ideas are born and, if viable, will be presented up the command chain. The pet project moves along into something with more potential. Thoughts move from “can we do it?” to “is there a business case?”.
This is where business leaders in product management or operations come in. If the idea is viable, the ideal scenario is that the business moves forward, seeing the IoT as an opportunity for revenue and/or improved internal processes.
A great study on IoT maturity of a business was conducted last year by IDC. We highly recommend it to help you determine at with stage your business is.
How to Drive IoT
Business leaders are likely to come to the IoT discussion at a later stage. We described above how the idea is quite often a pet project before it moves up within engineering. This bottom-up approach works. However, we believe that innovative business leaders can drive a top-down message to encourage innovation. This makes for a more effective process and ultimately bringing IoT solutions to market faster. A sure win.
Knowledge acquisition and sharing
The first step for any business leader is to understand the opportunity behind the IoT. While most still think wearables, the opportunity is much larger and expands from product innovation to data analysis and services. The IoT encompasses B2B and B2C products as well the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which concerns itself with internal processes and manufacturing. While business leaders aren’t expected to understand the technical details of integrations, they should understand the scope of opportunity.
There should also be a broad stroke understanding of what it would take to develop an IoT-enabled solution. An awareness of obstacles that could block the way is needed. These may include resources, scalability, security, and cost to develop an effective solution.
There are many resources available on IoT and its applications for all levels of knowledge. Internal resources, aka the engineering team, should be consulted to provide a lay-of-the-land view and external organizations can always be asked, too (just give us a call, we’d be happy to talk).
Bringing IoT to the Boardroom and Failing
Ideally, and we find this in the IDC report also, a company is IoT ready when the business takes it on as a strategic pillar. This is unlikely to be achieved when an idea cannot yet be presented. It may be seen as a failure that the board hasn’t fully opened the doors and committed to IoT. But, we do recommend bringing IoT onto the agenda early. The support of the idea alone paves the way to move an IoT solution through the business faster when the times comes.
Encouraging Internal Innovation
A culture of innovation cannot be built overnight but is vital to make IoT strides faster than the competition. Forbes describes five strategies big businesses use to build this culture:
- Understand the different types of innovation that you’re trying to foster.
- Empower champions to push back against bouncers.
- Redefine metrics and incentives.
- Give employees the tools they need to make their case.
- Create a safe space for experimentation.
These strategies together with ongoing conversations between engineering and business leaders will encourage idea generation. Great ideas are developed faster and more openly which results in business cases being built sooner and upon success, implemented faster to drive your business goals forward.
Open Lines of Communication
Mentioned within the culture of innovation already is the need for open lines of communication. Business leaders should be aware of the ideas developing within engineering, even if they do not come to fruition. Effective two-way-communication also implies that IoT ideas can be aligned to business goals sooner. Rather than an idea being fully formed and then presented to form a potential business case, the exchange of business needs/goals and ideas early on will bring both disciplines closer together from the start.
Bringing IoT to the Boardroom and Winning
The boardroom is open to IoT following initial conversations. The IoT solution has been formed by business and engineering disciplines, making it easier for leaders to get fully behind the concept. This is a solid foundation for winning and receiving sign-off on development. Ultimately, the business should now be IoT-ready.