Are you ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)? Despite its transformational potential, most organizations are not.
In an era of rapid disruption and digital transformation, IT executives and managers must lead the charge. You must bridge the gap between technology, business, engineering and operations. You must be evangelists, teachers, facilitators and innovators.
To succeed, I’ve listed six things you must do to facilitate and accelerate IoT adoption within your organization.
1. Increase your organization’s IoT IQ
Start the journey by increasing awareness, knowledge and conversations around IoT throughout the organization. This can be done in several ways:
- Hosting a series of regular brown bag “lunch and learn” sessions
- Sharing information in internal newsletters and other communications
- Speaking at company meetings and executive briefings
- Creating mini courses — live training, recorded videos and podcasts
- Inviting outside speakers — business leaders, customers and other innovators
- Hosting demo days to showcase examples of what is possible
2. Create IoT adoption catalysts within your IT organization
In chemistry, catalysts are facilitators that make a chemical reaction happen, or happen faster. Similarly, the IT organization can facilitate IoT adoption through a team of in-house IoT catalysts. This cross-functional team is well versed and up to date on innovation methodologies, IoT technologies, best practices and applications. Catalysts facilitate IoT adoption by:
- Being the organization’s “go-to” team for IoT questions, planning and strategy
- Engaging with business and operations teams to uncover IoT opportunities
- Identifying existing projects where small IoT pilots can be attached
- Sharing success stories and learnings across the organization
- Mitigating barriers to IoT adoption (infrastructure, policies, and processes)
3. Build a sandbox infrastructure for innovation and experimentation
IoT by itself is not innovation, although it may be built with innovative technologies. It’s the problems that it solves and the way it does it that creates innovation. Sustainable innovation doesn’t come from a flash of inspiration. It comes from the hard work of understanding the real underlying problems, hypothesizing possible solutions, building experiments, testing, validating and repeating. Organizations that can do this well become innovative market leaders.
The IT organization facilitates IoT innovation by building a “sandbox” for experimentation and proof of concept development. This sandbox comprises of an IoT platform, connected to a non-production IT environment and data.
It has tools to create simple software applications, run simulations, analyze data, and collect user feedback. It is designed for easy setup, configuration and connection to a variety of edge devices. Its goal is to allow IoT innovators throughout the organization to test ideas, develop proof of concepts and curate future projects.
4. Prioritize learning projects and pilots
IT managers must actively seek out, support and prioritize early IoT projects with the goals of learning, experimenting and uncovering challenges. Doing this now enables the organization to develop the core capabilities to execute later.
When evaluating learning or pilot projects, don’t solely use criteria reserved for more established solutions, such as ROI and cost. Doing so will lead to a portfolio of projects in which IoT and innovation projects are at the bottom of the priority list. Evaluate and prioritize projects based on the following additional criteria:
- Learning value and skill building
- Organizational impact
- Future project scalability
- Cross functional involvement
- Problem type solved
- Integration and interoperability
5. Get your infrastructure ‘IoT ready’
Today’s IT infrastructure, processes and policies will hinder IoT project success, adoption and scaling. IoT presents new challenges and exacerbates others that IT managers must address now. These include:
- Security of “things” inside and outside the firewall
- Integration and management of disparate data from multiple sources
- Integration of legacy, operations and specialized systems
- Data to learning to execution of complex events and activities
- Agility and scalability to meet dynamic workloads and storage
- Mission critical and low latency processing at scale
- “Things” administration, management and support
The IoT ecosystem is still evolving and largely fragmented. Knowledge is being created at a rapid pace. In this dynamic environment, doing it alone is not an option. IT must collaborate with external IoT partners to learn faster, execute better, and reduce project risk.
Collaboration may take many forms, and includes:
- Knowledge exchange through industry or peer forums
- Contributing to industry panels, papers, and working groups
- Formal engagements for knowledge transfers (e.g. industry analyst briefings)
- Leveraging industry frameworks (e.g. Industrial Internet Consortium, etc.)
- Engaging external consultants and specialists to augment current capabilities
- Utilizing third party solutions instead of building it in-house