How to unlock your IoT potential
Last year, the automated pet feeding company PetNet experienced a system failure that prevented pet owners from feeding their pets remotely. The glitch, which was blamed on a third-party server service, affected about one in ten users and triggered an outpouring of complaints from worried pet owners on social media via the hashtag “internet of stupid.” For PetNet, a company made possible by the rise of smart devices, ubiquitous connectivity, and the Internet of Things (IoT), this error could have been avoided if system failures had been accounted for and properly tested during the service’s design phase.
Start-up-led, IoT-based initiatives are quickly becoming a core building block of digital business transformation initiatives at established organizations. According to Gartner, 50 percent of businesses are planning to complete at least one IoT project by the end of the year. However, these early projects will not be without their challenges as organizations learn new skills and practices. Until 2018, Gartner predicts that 80 percent of projects will take twice as long as planned due to poor diligence, skills shortages, inadequate sourcing practices, and cybersecurity issues. In short, IoT technologies can often cause more problems than they solve.
Until recently, businesses were mainly using IoT to connect operational systems and assets, to drive efficiency, and to enable the creation of new revenue streams through greater intelligence and automation. However, the emphasis is quickly shifting to consumer-facing services as companies seek to create differentiated, data-rich experiences for their customers.
Yet the speed of consumer business means these newer IoT initiatives can become a poisoned chalice as businesses rushing to deploy new services ahead of competitors forsake quality for speed. The result is often low quality IoT infrastructures that are constantly crashing and a fault finding service based on customer complaints. What follows is money and time wasted as organizations rush to fix bugs and glitches at the critical point in the chain where customers may spot service errors.
In the face of pressure from the line of business teams to deliver new IoT-reliant services, one way in which CIOs can maintain quality assurance is by investing in a robust testing strategy that can handle IoT workloads and fix problems before they happen. The IT budget devoted to testing is already expected to rise to 40 percent by 2019, and 40 percent of organizations see predictive analytics and cloud-based environments as the key to managing IoT-induced workloads. Machine-led testing, driven by automation and artificial intelligence, will be one of the key enablers for businesses to adopt a predictive approach to testing.
With 48 percent of businesses failing to manage the demands of multiple test environments, one way organizations can move beyond delivery pipeline automation is by incorporating agile methodologies and DevOps in their testing strategies. Building automated tests is a complex process, but the key to success is early engagement with key stakeholders, such as the business management and development teams, to ensure quality is maintained at every level of the development cycle.
To achieve this change, strong leadership is required from CIOs on the importance of governance and education, and the potential consequences of not balancing security and testing with speed-to-market for IoT initiatives. By breaking down business silos and actively collaborating with the rest of C-suite, CIOs can help their companies find success from IoT and avoid brand damage. By deploying a risk mitigation-based strategy, businesses can ensure that IoT has a positive impact on their business and most importantly, helps to build and maintain positive relationships with their customers.