Nobody doubts the promise a connected world can bring. We will connect an increasing and varied number of objects by equipping them with more sensors. Some examples include the advancements we see in technologies for automation and payments systems (such as Blockchain), which will allow us to extract more value from the connected ecosystem.
Sensors alone will not help you gain insights and drive business value. It is the ability to connect value chains and derive insights from analyzing the data generated by the use of these objects that brings sustained value. I recently saw an interview where someone stated that his company was at the forefront of their business sector after having incorporated a large set of sensors in their machines!
The value is realized when the IoT system communicates with the client various deviations from the norm, in near real time and offers alternatives. For instance, when you see a glitch in the beginning of the supply chain that will affect the delivery to the end consumer you can adjust accordingly. That is the real value: connecting the connected world.
But where does one begin in such a complex world with so many opportunities? Here are five guidelines to help you get started.
1. USE YOUR IMAGINATION
Don’t go after the obvious applications, but take time to create an environment where you can “dream” of new value propositions. It is not always the first idea that delivers the best value or the most competitive advantage. Disney has even created a course for this known as “Imagineering.” What if you could inspire your organization with some Imagineering capabilities?
2. SWEAT YOUR ASSETS
During my MBA, I learned this valuable lesson: sweat your assets, leverage what you have, and use them to the max.
Yes, there is value if you have a lot of sensors attached to your assets and perhaps you can get even more from them than you originally thought. Make a list of all the connectivity in your organization, whether in your production facility, in your products, etc. These are all potential sources of value and getting an overview will help you to come up with new value propositions.
3. CREATE NEW INSIGHTS
As I mentioned earlier, it is not the data from sensors that will bring new value, it is the insights from this data. Inject your organization with data science which will enable you to create new insights from the data you gather off the sensors. And not from the stand-alone sensors, but from the sometimes-hidden “connections” that exist between the different sensors. Enter with an open mind and be surprised.
4. PLATFORMS MATTER
Yes, platforms matter. Which platform can you use to drive your IoT initiatives? With the cloud revolution, there are plenty of platforms that can serve your needs, connect your sensors, and capture your data…some even with analytics bundled in. But don’t use the platform as an excuse not to start. Don’t go into extensive platform evaluations; rather, choose one and acknowledge the fact that in the future you might switch.
With the open connectivity offered today, switching has become a standard option, not a hindrance.
5. FAIL FAST, LEARN FASTER
You can test your hypothesis based on the scenarios you dream up during the Imagineering process. Yes, you will find out that many scenarios will not deliver the required results or will not be easy to implement. This is not failure; failure only occurs if you don’t learn from it. Consider it an iterative process where the goal is to learn, not to have an immediate hit. What will this mean for your organization and how can you install this within your existing structures and culture are questions that must always be on your mind.
We are just at the beginning of the IoT wave, but we can apply what we have learned from other technology waves to explore and exploit new opportunities even faster. We cannot even imagine where this journey will take us.