Technology /

Developing a comprehensive strategy for the Internet of Things

By Justin Bingham | June 13, 2017

 

The IoT Lifecycle

The IoT lifecycle can be a confusing continuum of unease, enterprise-level self-doubt, and lack of clarity. Different organizations may find themselves at a different stage of the journey depending on their own levels of preparedness. In order to navigate the way effectively for your organization, it’s important to identify where you fall within the various stages of the lifecycle.

  • Strategy
  • Monitoring
  • Control
  • Optimization
  • Autonomy

Strategy

If your organization is just beginning to explore the Internet of Things as a key component of business and growth, it’s crucial to establish an up-front business case that justifies your upcoming efforts. This means developing an understanding of the possible whys, whats, and hows that matter to your business.

  • Why would you want to create a connection with the products and devices you offer?
  • What effect will this have on your business and innovation?
  • How will you accomplish this change across the entire organization?
  • And, most importantly, how will a connected line of products or services benefit your customers and enhance their experience?

These aren’t easy questions. Determining whether an IoT strategy is right for you means identifying where within the value chain you should focus your IoT efforts for the most beneficial return on your investment. You may be able to build value through your IoT initiative in a number of ways. Depending on your specific goals, it may make sense to improve supplier efficiency, enable enhancements to the products, streamline operations, or open up opportunities for entirely new services. Or, if your infrastructure can handle it, to take on all of those areas at once.

Also important at this early stage is determining the right team to execute your strategy. This could be a mixture of hiring new personnel to build key new functions or further developing staff that is ready to adapt their skills to this new IoT environment.

It also means planning for how to manage existing technical debt while mapping out new initiatives. These new efforts will need to be weighed against any parallel IT projects and timelines to determine how their priority compares. This will allow you to build for new innovation without neglecting core systems or creating any fresh technical issues.

Monitoring

There are many options available for building out the monitoring infrastructure needed for your IoT initiative. As you survey the available options for cloud services, platforms, sensors, and security, always weigh the needs your strategy has identified in your selection process.

It’s important to build an informed and scalable infrastructure early in your IoT journey. Making the right choices up front that serve the business, your products, and your customers will make it possible to scale for growth smoothly — and set you up to handle and analyze all of the new information coming in from connected devices.

Control

Once you’ve established the necessary connections across your enterprise with the products that are out in the world, it’s time to figure out what to do with them. At this stage, the customer’s perspective really comes to bear as you learn how to deliver value that makes sense and adjusts the product in ways that are necessary. Always be certain you are introducing control mechanisms and features that lead to useful outcomes. You don’t want to spend a lot of time, effort, and money on infrastructure or features that don’t actually make the product more useful for users.

In addition, a high level of security is needed in a highly connected world. The volume of valuable, personal information and device data travelling across the internet is growing every day. It’s more important than ever that it goes only where it’s meant to and is seen only by those who are supposed to see it.

Optimization

Once you’ve built a connection with the products and devices you’ve sent out into the world, it’s time to optimize your business based on the data you’re receiving and making sure that it’s exposed to the right people in the right ways to be useful. Carefully consider how to package, display, and react to the information you now have at your fingertips.

When you make this new data available to those within your organization who will benefit from it the most and make it easy for them to work with and interpret, new opportunities will begin to present themselves. For instance, a connected product may begin to feed data about its own usage back to the product design team. This creates a unique scenario for the product’s “voice” — captured and considered by design and engineering teams — to influence its own iterations and enhancements.

The goals are to leverage data in ways that drive decisions and help identify opportunities for product improvement. The right presentation of previously unknown data may lead to insights or solutions that you never saw coming.

Autonomy

One of the most important human concerns when it comes to connected devices is how much autonomy your users will tolerate. Not every activity that can be handled automatically by a device should be. Finding the right level of unprompted behavior is extremely important for making sure your customers feel comfortable with the devices, machines, and hardware they’ve incorporated into their work and lives.

Make sure that as you pack your products with features and opportunities for enhancement, you’re choosing wisely. Keep the customers in mind at all times and make sure you’re delivering a level of independence in their devices that matches both their expectations and their needs.

→ Need help building a strategy for your IoT initiative? Get in touch.

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