During a recent webinar, “Enterprise IoT: How to beat the competition,” Jim Morrish and I outlined the steps in an Enterprise IoT journey. There are two reasons why this will be a busy journey or road for any enterprise. One, you are not alone. Enterprises across many industries have certainly started to recognise the opportunities and benefits in Enterprise IoT, and are travelling down the Enterprise IoT road at different speeds. Two, the journey itself involves several paths; some very familiar, some less so. Let’s try to race down that road.
First, enterprises need to get this on their executive agendas. Enterprise IoT is a CxO driven initiative, not another IT or product development project. Enterprise IoT significantly transforms and changes the nature of the business; either by improving operational processes with new insights, by enabling new business models with real-time data, or by delivering new customer experiences and engagement models through connected devices and services.
Second, executives need to identify, select and prioritise the IoT applications they believe will benefit their business. Compared to other IT or machine-to-machine projects, the task of the executives is made that one degree more complex by having to decide in terms of roadmaps rather than single implementations. One of the more compelling and challenging attributes of IoT architectures is that once properly implemented, it becomes a platform for growth. ‘Properly implemented’ means that architectural principles of scalability, agility, flexibility and modularity have been followed, and not compromised for the sake of singular goals. Identifying IoT opportunities can be achieved through such diverse management tools as brainstorming sessions, workshops, accessing industry analyst reports, engaging with consultants and receiving customer feedback. The challenge for executives becomes this narrowing and prioritisation process. To assist, consider the next step.
Third, test your selection and prioritisation. Gaining a deeper and more detailed insight about the technology options and limitations for each of the IoT applications in the various technology domains, and exposing each identified IoT opportunity to a high level feasibility study assessment will add value and insight to your prioritisations.
As an aside comment, IoT opportunities may range from applications which address core operational processes as heavy manufacturing equipment monitoring or environmental monitors to those which include such business support processes as fleet management, building security and goods monitoring. The message here is that IoT opportunities may benefit cross departmental and business units more than ever before.
Finally, having identified the set of prioritised IoT opportunities, enterprises should then proceed to define the appropriate business cases, and once approved, progress this strategic initiative to an operational one.
Throughout the operational Plan-Build-Operate stages, enterprises may discover additional IoT opportunities or may need to discard or amend selected ones. Compared to the well-defined and detailed planned IT projects of the past, IoT methodologies work better with agile software development approaches – try, try and try, and if it fails, be ready to move on. And only invest as you go, and avoiding embarking on the multi-million projects from the very beginning.
To return to the metaphor we started with, there is also a third reason for the Enterprise IoT road being very busy. You will not be travelling alone. Enterprise IoT requires partnerships. Either customers becoming more like partners than just one-time buy product customers, sharing their data with you as a service provider, or your enterprise having to work closely with solution providers for the share and expertise around technology in build or buy decisions, or ultimately, partnerships with other enterprises to share data and create greater benefits for all involved. In a market such as Enterprise IoT, perhaps more is now gained from collaborative advantage than competitive advantage.
Enterprise IoT is a disruptive market force. Connected devices with services are transforming industries and changing markets, and with enterprises actively going down this road, standing still or turning back on this highway will be very difficult and dangerous, if not impossible.
By Emil Berthelsen – Principal Analyst, Machina Research