How Are You Tackling IoT? Jumping In Head First Or Taking A Wait-and-See Approach?
Many business leaders have a dilemma today when it comes to IoT. They know that IoT bridges the gap between their customers and the products and services they sell. They know that IoT puts them in a position to collect and leverage an unprecedented amount of data that can open up new streams of revenue or cost savings. And they know that implementing IoT is not like anything they have ever done before. Despite knowing all this, many business leaders don’t know where or how to start IoT. Do you just jump in head first and figure it out as you go? Or do you spend the next 6 months making a detailed plan to try and mitigate your risk? Perhaps it’s a little of both.
A lot of clients we work with have already started on an IoT project. IoT is exciting and it’s hard to resist the instant gratification many companies are pitching. We hear it all the time – some large IoT platform company has convinced a client they can IoT-enable their products and have them ready for commercial release quickly. Sounds great, right? Well, as gratifying as that experience might be, the problems start to occur when you realize the solution doesn’t scale well, costs too much or doesn’t integrate with your internal systems. That’s because IoT is more complex than simply setting up a platform or plugging in a sensor. Successful IoT has to be part of an overall digital transformation strategy that contemplates your assets, capabilities, resources, internal systems, customer needs and value propositions.
We typically encounter three different kinds of IoT business leaders, each approaching IoT in a unique way:
IoT Visionaries are industry leaders who want to be first to market with their IoT-enabled products and solutions. Visionaries typically have a grand plan for where they can go with their IoT program, but usually lack the experienced resources to actually overcome all of the challenges in getting from idea to commercial launch. And because they are an industry leader, they cannot risk missteps or false starts because it might harm their reputation. Visionaries want the best support and guidance and demand the most from their IoT partners.
IoT Competitors are typically in industries where new innovations must quickly be adopted by all the market players in order to keep pace and not get left behind. IoT Competitors are challenged by managing the costs, time to market and feature sets of their IoT implementations. For IoT Competitors, implementing IoT is as much about staying ahead as it is about improving the customer experience or finding new revenue. Often decisions get made based on what IoT might cost or how fast it can be implemented at the risk of losing sight of bigger, more long-term opportunities. IoT Competitors need experts with the vision to help them get the most from their IoT investment while helping them stay ahead of the market.
IoT Opportunists are seeking to leverage IoT to their advantage as quickly and cost effectively as possible. Smaller and nimbler, IoT Opportunists are not necessarily driven by competitive forces. They operate without many of the constraints of IoT Competitors or even Visionaries. They want to have their products or services connected to the IoT and they have specific goals in mind. Making it happen quickly and cost effectively take precedent over making sure they are making the best long-term technology choices or partnering with the right technology providers. Often, we find these programs serve as little more than rapid prototypes and either catch on or fade away as a result of too many problems or delays. IoT Opportunists need help from people who know how to develop fast IoT solutions that can be scaled and grow as demand for the solution increases. IoT expertise and experienced guidance for these fast-moving projects can mean the difference between succeeding or wasting a lot of time and money.
Whether you are a Visionary, Competitor or Opportunist, the IoT landscape is dotted with challenges. Today, the IoT ecosystem is bigger than ever and the list of technologies you have to tackle is immense. From sensors to connectivity to clouds to apps to machine learning – how does it all fit together to create a seamless solution that will drive benefits for you and your customers? Even then, you still have to contemplate logistics, security and scalability if you are going to be successful. Like with any major undertaking, the team you assemble will make all the difference.