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February 05, 2021 Anders Nilsson Senior Sales Manager , Tele2 IoT

Buying IoT: What You Need for Success

I take a lot of customer meetings and one of the questions I get all the time is ‘How do I buy IoT?’ Let’s start with what IoT is.

The Internet of Things – or IoT – is about the ability to understand what is happening by using sensors to collect data, then filtering that data so you can make informed decisions. This description is valid whether you’re talking about anything from your personal fitness tracker or large construction equipment to trash bins or pollution. IoT is all about understanding what is going on and collecting data for the purpose of making decisions.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, and it isn’t, especially when you’re trying to build your solution. When correctly implemented, IoT delivers critical insights into your business, but here’s the rub: there are a lot of different factors that will come into play.

The good news is that you will be amazed at how little of your IoT solution is actually technical. In fact, the main challenge will be preparing for change management in your company and making sure your company mindset is in the right place.

Anders Nilsson Senior Sales Manager Tele2 IoT

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?
  • Trendy/follower?
  • 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:

When creating your IoT Solution these parts need to be in place. If they aren’t, you won’t reach your goals and targets. And the reality is that there are any number of ways of approaching the implementation of your IoT solution, but the important part is to get started while understanding what you need.

It’s doesn’t matter whether your measuring water or tracking a car – all IoT solutions are designed to in some way help you gain insights into your assets. So, the best way to start implementing you IoT solution is to grab one that offers all of the components you need (hardware, software, connectivity and SIM management platform), while working with a partner who has the experience and knowledge to advise and guide you in getting the solution that matches your particular requirements.

IoT front end dashboard

If you do a quick internet search, you’ll see that 7 out of ten IoT projects fail, and this is usually due to front-end complexity issues. When ranking the different parts in an IoT delivery or solution the front-end capabilities will be the most important to have in place. Most people see a dashboard-like solution that will visualize all data created and be used as a Business Intelligence (BI) tool. If you purchase a commercialized solution you will likely have this BI.

You need to treat the front-end capabilities as important, because this is part of your quality of service towards customers. You need to have an attractive display, online GUI, etc.  Is it displaying relevant information, is the touch and feel of the front end correctly positioned to your target group, and will the users get benefits from using the solution presented by the frontend user interface?

These are a lot of big questions to answer and while they’re not always easy to digest, they’re still of great importance. The best-known platforms are coming from the dragons like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, with a frame platform approach where you add your own template, look, and feel.

If you go into a more verticalized search you will find more than 500 different horizontal IoT platforms which you can use out of the box, with all functions included.  Added to this is all the boxed ready-made vertical solutions that are already on the market. This means that it is a pure strategic choice that you make and here is the time to ask an experienced partner for help.

What to do

So, to recap, if you work through the following simple steps you will be standing on a solid foundation when you approach the market with your IoT solution.

  1. Why are you going into IoT?
  2. Who are you as a company, where are you positioned?
  3. Who is your customer?
  4. How is your competition doing?
  5. How is your organization readiness?
  6. Chose an IoT platform and front-end based on your needs 
  7. Think big, start small, scale fast! 

What not to do:

  1. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking existing talent in your organization – you might already have an inhouse champion
  2. Address the IoT project as a technical project only, never forget the commercial opportunities that might be the driver of interest. 
  3. Please do not invent a new unique solution for your company only, you can do that later when it flies. Best practice is most of the times to use an off-the-shelf solution.   

If you would like more advice on how to implement your IoT solution, please get in touch.

Anders Nilsson
Sales Manager
Tele2 IoT

Anders Nilsson
Senior Sales Manager
Tele2 IoT