The term ‘Internet of Things’ first came into use around the year 2000 – but it’s only in the past 5 or so years that the label has become more broadly known and used beyond niche industry users and developers. What do we really mean when we refer to IoT? Is it all about technology for technology’s sake or is there a business and human benefit?
The simplest explanation is that IoT is the combination of a device or sensor – the ‘thing’ that has the capability to wirelessly transmit the data it captures over the internet – with a system that stores and analyses the data. But this is just the technology definition. We already know the ‘what?’. Question is, do we understand the ‘so what?’
The well-known Gartner hype cycle tells us that there are 4 key stages in the adoption of all new technologies. The first is the emergence stage quickly followed by the excessive enthusiasm of the peak of inflated expectations. The third (and lowest point!) is the trough of disillusionment where there are more naysayers than believers in the technology. What follows for the fourth and final stage is where the new technology becomes established and takes off on the slope of enlightenment.
You could say that the trough of despair for IoT was back in 2017 when McKinsey declared that IoT was stuck in ‘pilot purgatory’. Since then, though, many companies have driven past the pilot stage. Are we on the slope of enlightenment? Truth is, more IoT projects than ever have successfully delivered beyond pilots into implementation.
So… What’s the secret?
The answer is pretty straightforward. Rather than simply implementing technology, those companies who have successfully scaled have been very clear about the business problem they’re trying to fix. They’ve figured out their ‘so what?’
This doesn’t mean that the implementation itself is simple, mind you. There’s still a need to ensure you have the optimal devices and sensors, combined with the right technology platform, that uses the best applications for your data management, infrastructure, edge processing and security needs.
By leading with your outcome, you are best placed to implement the right IoT technology. Be clear on your core proposition. What user needs and customer value will the technology address? Are you looking to improve your business processes, enable predictive maintenance, reduce costs from human error or unlock new revenue streams? Maybe, in reality, it’s a combination of all those outcomes.
Being clear on your ‘why’ will set your company up for the first crucial factor in successful implementation – cultural and organisational change. You need to change the mindset of your company to rally behind the value your IoT project will bring.
The second step of successful implementation is to acknowledge the skills gap that you have in your organisation. IoT projects are transformation projects where only the very largest of technology companies have the full in-house expertise required, particularly around data science. You also need to ensure that security is not an after-thought but baked into your planning and design from the start.
Finally, interconnectivity can be a major obstacle in the way of smooth scaling beyond pilot. Avoid frustration by building on a standardized connectivity ecosystem that is best in class for your business and intended outcome.
As far as we’re concerned here at CoGo, the world of IoT technology is moving beyond the small pilot project to implementation at scale for real business transformation. To ensure that your organization achieves success in IoT, be clear on your business outcome and ensure that you have identified knowledge and skills gaps, driven cultural change from the top and considered the your technology security and interconnectivity needs up front.