It is already February, but since most of us have already forgotten our New Year’s resolutions, I thought it would be great if we all improve our IoT with some healthy habits! Think of this as the IoT equivalent of brushing your teeth, flossing and getting plenty of exercise. It takes discipline, but it pays off in the end.
#1 – Business problem first, not technology.
Early in my career I was doing business with the CIO of a major telco (and a multibillion dollar budget), and he shared a comment that I never forgot. “I don’t care if your solution is driven by a roomful of monkeys. If the price is right and it solves my problems, I’ll buy the bananas.” He was not romantic or religious about any particular technology. He simply wanted to directly address the issue on the table.
I find that in IoT, we still often start with a particular piece of technology, and then spend lots of time figuring out how to apply the tech to the problem. Focus on defining the problem first and the technology solution will present itself. This is not a religious choice, it is about dispassionately solving a problem.
#2 – Run IoT like any other innovation project.
Innovation most frequently fails when it is run and measured in the same way as an existing, mature business. Innovation is not a small version of a large project. No question about needing metrics but try treating a 3-year-old like a senior in high school and see where that gets you. Eric Reis in his classic book Lean Startup talks about the different management needed for early stage projects. Intense, constant, market-based feedback is one of the best ways to get most projects across the finish line whether the customer is internal or external. The recipe exists, you just need to read the cookbook. Season to taste.
#3 – Bring Lots of Friends
One of the hardest things about deploying IoT solutions is that they require so many parties to work. A specific set of partners for one use case may be completely different from the set of partners that you need for the next. (remember about starting with the problem?) You need to understand the strengths and applications of multiple partners in each layer of a solution.
For instance, I am coming to the belief that given the early stage of all LPWAN and low data cellular connectivity options, most solutions should hedge their bets by equipping their devices with multiple forms of connectivity by default. The incremental cost is lower than ever and the hardware and truck roll cost of replacing something far outweighs the cost of having options.
#4 – Trust but Verify
I admit that I am a bit old-fashioned about being honest around strengths and limitations of whatever projects with which I am associated. I need to sleep at night. I mention this as I have never seen more fluff and fantasy products than I saw at CES this year. We should not be surprised as many product announcements have gotten way ahead of reality as part of the intense hype around IoT. I have seen announcements running ahead of product availability anywhere from nine months to infinity, and it is coming from very large to very small companies. Trust but verify before betting your project on something. The space is too immature to simply trust the brochure.
Now that you made it through the healthy activities, you get to have dessert – a hugely successful IoT project that helps to reduce costs, increase revenue, and create unfair competitive advantage.