The business of IoT: Start innovating

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This is the last entry in our “Business of IoT” series, you can read the previous blogs here.

If you followed our suggestions and avoided the pitfalls of many failed IoT projects, you should be bringing your idea to a proof-of-concept phase. This is where things can get pretty overwhelming, so we strongly recommend following a common planning model for your project:

1. Assess your current business status, asking: “Where are we now?”

This can be as simple as reviewing budget or as complicated as taking into consideration potential risks to the business, 5- or 10-year plans, how any new platforms will integrate into your current systems, or if your customers truly will see the need for a new device or service.

2. Set out your key goals and objectives for your project: “Where do we want to be?”

As mentioned in previous blogs, we often hear that customers want to do IoT for the sake of it, without a clear objective. This is where the rubber really hits the road for your planning. Think about the end result; do you want to be deploying around the world, or revolutionizing your market? Do you have a clear business case for your objective? Maybe have a look around your industry for success stories to get an idea of how those innovators reached their goals. This is a key consideration, so take your time for deep analysis.

3. Create an overview of your plan for achieving your objective, or: “How do we get there?”

Once you’re convinced you have a solid objective, you now need to gain a better understanding of how to accomplish it. Don’t stress too much about all the details (we’ll handle that later), but sketch out your initial overview of how you plan to move forward. Which parts of the business will need to be involved? A fleshed-out strategy needs a strong skeleton to hold it up, so get those bones in place.

4. Get into the nitty-gritty details of your strategy by asking: “Which tasks do we need to do?”

Alright, now it’s time to break down the outline into a task-based action plan. Here’s your chance to fill out your whiteboard with colour-coded post-it notes, covering every potential step that needs to be taken on the road to success for this new venture. If it’s a device, think about which hardware you’ll need and how to procure it. Now is a good time to really dig deep and discuss any eventuality and mitigation for risks.

5. Lay out the necessary actions that need to be taken to drive the project, or: “What resources do we have?”

If you previously considered which parts of the business you’ll need to involve, this is the time to tap the right people and assign some actions or tasks. Concrete next steps will guide you through the development, budgeting, QA, manufacturing, and deployment processes. Sure, there may be some bumps and roadblocks along the way, but if you’ve completed your work from step 4, you should have a clear understanding of what can be done to avoid concerns.

6. Keep an eye on the key components to measure the effectiveness of your plan, asking: “What do we monitor?”

As always, it’s very important to take a step back to consider how your proof-of-concept plan is proceeding. Ensure that you have assigned solid metrics to your tasks to check everything is going well and people are working effectively. This may be especially useful through the QA phase, but it’s an exercise that should constantly be at the forefront of your product managers’ or devs’ minds.

What’s next?

So, you’ve realised there is huge potential to be found in digital transformation for your business.

Navigating the IoT supply chain can be complex, leaving many potential innovators at a loss about where to start. Unknown acronyms, confusing terminology, and endless lists of vendors can contribute to major stumbling blocks as you work on developing your PoC. Depending on where your IoT journey begins, you may need to refer to the entirety of this supply chain primer or simply familiarize yourself with the latter half.

If you’re an OEM with hardware expertise, looking to simply integrate IoT into currently existing products, then your focus may fall entirely around finding the right solution provider for your end users. For innovators looking to create a brand-new device for an IoT project, you may need to carefully vet your technology vendors to ensure they’re able to meet your requirements.

Get started on your journey from idea to PoC with our next blog series, “How to buy IoT”.

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