From pilot to large scale deployment: Going the distance with IoT
Businesses and governments alike are sold on the benefits of IoT technology. While federal governments look to build smart cities using the technology, businesses are working to enhance operations and transform business models.
According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 study, 55% of the surveyed senior business leaders expect IoT technologies to increase internal cost savings as well as external revenue generation opportunities in the next three years. Typically, businesses start small with pilot IoT use case projects, then gradually scale as they develop expertise, says Kiran Desai, senior vice president & global head, cloud & infrastructure services, Wipro Limited.
However, a recent Cisco survey found over 60% of IoT projects stalled at the Proof of Concept (PoC) stage. Even worse, three-quarters of the remaining 40% of projects that made it to the pilot stage were considered unsuccessful.
What is it that keeps organisations from realising IoT’s sky-high potential, and what are the key ingredients for its success?
Four reasons why IoT pilots fail to materialise into full-blown projects
- Lack of clear problem definition
Today’s IoT solutions-scenario is flipped: companies build IoT solutions first and then search for a problem to fit the functionality. Enthused by IoT’s disruptive potential and hype, businesses dive head-first into IoT pilots without analysing their challenges, priorities and desired outcomes. Defining and managing business requirements is a key challenge businesses face in getting IoT projects off the ground.
- Integration complexity
Realising IoT’s real promise requires integrating new systems with the old. But legacy workflows and devices were not designed to share data. New computing models and data flows, integrated with network devices and stretched all the way into the datacentre or cloud, must be built to enable seamless data sharing. Given the fragmented regulatory policies and standards, competing vendor protocols and frameworks with proprietary systems, IoT integration is undoubtedly a daunting and cost-intensive task.
- Solution overkill
Successful IoT projects require constructive collaboration between IT and business teams. Unfortunately, this is not the norm. IoT solutions that are overloaded with functionalities escalate costs, deployment time while often comprising of needless features.
- Resistance to Change
Organisations often have different teams handling Operations and Technology Transformation. Operations teams are mostly happy doing things the conventional way and have apprehension and threat perception from use of disruptive technology and methods. Whereas, Transformation teams go for Pilot with limited business buy-in leading to acceptance challenges with the larger team, hampering adoption at scale.
Moving from pilot to project: Four key ingredients to success
1. Refrain from creating idealistic solutions – Take an end-to-end solution approach
Organisations need targeted IoT solutions for their most pressing business challenges. They must therefore adopt an end-to-end solution approach, then work backwards –beginning by clearly defining end results and subsequently mapping them to business processes and challenges.
2. Do not pilot a framework solution – Keep level of customisation low to minimise solution cost
Starting an IoT pilot for a framework solution is like attempting to reinvent the wheel. A framework solution requires customisation of the complete code, involving higher cost and time to deploy. Compared to lengthy planning, platform-based solutions allow businesses to implement strategies that are flexible and lead to lower implementation costs and time. In fact, 64% of executives say they have learnt from failed IoT projects and will go on to invest more with IoT learnings in mind. Hence, design to succeed, but if you fail, fail fast.
3. Do not overshoot on the TAT – Keep it to a minimum
An IoT pilot project should take no more than three-to-four months for basic functionality testing and should include no more than five scenarios or feature designs that are aligned with your business goals.
For example, pilot-as-a-service offers enterprises a readymade cloud-hosted simulated IoT testing ecosystem that significantly reduces testing time cost and resource consumption. For businesses looking to transition to large scale IoT deployments, this provides an opportunity to start small and incrementally scale projects to maximise ROI.
4. Don’t take a siloed approach to data – Create a connected enterprise
The importance of creating a truly connected enterprise that enables data sharing and analytics cannot be overstated when it comes to realising tangible value from IoT implementations. IoT data can improve operational efficiencies, anticipate consumer preferences, positively impact the sales and marketing bottom line, and more.
Wash Multifamily Laundry Systems, a California-based laundry services provider, leverages device data from its network of interconnected washers, dryers, vending machines, and payment systems to not only streamline internal operations and enable preventive maintenance but also to provide cost-effective options to customers. Modular platforms that contain multiple solutions ensure scalability, manageability and better data analytics as compared to fragmented independent platforms.
The stepping stone to large scale IoT projects
Digging the same ground over and again to iron out bugs is a tedious process, besides being cost and time ineffective. Yet, companies cannot roll out large-scale IoT projects without developing and piloting the concept.
By bringing IoT expertise and work closely together for organisations to shape their ideas clearly and selecting the right parameters that align with the requirements, businesses can finally take the steps to help their IoT pilots take off.
The author of this blog is Kiran Desai, senior vice president & global head, cloud & infrastructure services, Wipro Limited