Starting your project
So, where do you start? The answer to that question is another question: Why are you implementing IoT? Is it to cut costs? To become more flexible and responsive? Or do you want to modernize and maybe evolve your business overall? In many cases, IoT can streamline processes, but nearly 60% of people say that they want to ‘raise the quality of service’ and use IoT as an enabler to reach this target. They want to be better and in order to be better they need to connect their assets and gain insights in order to increase quality of service.
In other words, when you digitize you need to have everyone in the company onboard, because IoT will transform your business, in both expected and unexpected ways. I always tell my customers the same thing: 20 years ago, Volvo started to connect their vehicles in order to understand how the engine was doing and when it needed service – those were their big objectives. Today, you can remotely control your Volvo through your app – lock the doors, start the engine, or turn on the heat on a cold winter morning before ever getting in the car. IoT and the benefits it provides to your business is always evolving.
Where is your need?
Understanding your vertical and the challenges within it is another step towards understanding why you’re doing IoT and which challenges it can help you address. Therefore, it’s important to map your company needs into a vertical. In doing this, your team will be aligned, and you will be able to spot potential solutions more quickly, as well as make future discussions much easier for all involved. If you do this, you can easily identify commercialized IoT solutions and apply them to your own challenges.
Standardized solutions are a good starting point because, like we saw with Volvo, you don’t know where this IoT journey is going to end, but you do have a template on where to start. I like to say: start small, think big, scale fast.
Who is your customer?
Oftentimes we get so hung up on the solution that we forget the bigger picture, so while it might seem obvious, it’s important to understand who your customer is and how IoT will help you serve them better. While it differs depending on your business, understanding who your customer is will enable them to follow your lead when it comes to IoT if it feels relevant to them. So, your IoT solution should fit brand awareness.
Ask yourself the following questions about your customers. Are they:
- Traditional/low risk-taker?
- Early adopter/risk-taker?
- General need analysis
When you position your customer base you will quite quickly understand how the work needs to be done. If all your customers are traditional and conservative, you need to act on that and maybe involve your customer in the change. If it is the opposite, you might just do a trial and error offering in order to learn.
How is your competition doing with digitization and IoT?
This could be the most important question – if the market or your competition is doing something to evolve or digitize their business, there’s a good chance you’ll be left behind if you don’t take those steps as well. How do you position yourself as a company?
- Do you want to lead or are you more comfortable sitting back and seeing results before making your move?
- Would you like to be a differentiator?
- Can IoT help you take a new position in the market?
- What are the relevant use cases, success stories, etc.?
Asking yourself these questions will help you understand the type of solution you need, how much to invest, and which resources will be required, such as staff or other factors.
Your organizational readiness
Even in the early stages of considering your IoT project, your organization needs to get ready. You have answered Why you need to start, defined the need and also Who you are as a company and Who is your customer. You have probably also compared yourself to your competition and realized why you, as an organization, need to take this step. The best path to success is understanding your organization’s capabilities and possible challenges. You need to understand and take action on the following:
- Who is driving the initiative? Names person and project group
- Inhouse know-how – what is the level of IoT knowledge today?
- Is there an IoT budget? If not, make sure to have it in place
- Create both a technical plan and a commercial plan
- Define what will happen if you don’t launch this project
- Third party consultation: do you need to bring in outside help?
- Long-term plan: how to run your implementation
And don’t forget to look at who is handling your IT today – do they have the skills needed or will you need to implement into existing ERP or CRM.
Ordinary IoT Solution
Now that you’ve done the groundwork, let’s look at the IoT solution. An IoT solution consists of different parts, both hardware and software – but also related services. Here is the IoT ecosystem on a high level: