Want to Implement IOT? Don’t Forget These First Steps

Last summer I wrote a blog post about the what and why of the Internet of Things. In this post we will take things a bit further, with a focus on the Industrial Internet.

I believe that IoT is a tremendous force for innovation, competition, and good in the world. During the next decade, IoT-enabled companies will precisely target products and services and materially reduce costs in ways that were just not possible before. Actionable analytics will enable further material and directly measurable improvements in areas including asset utilization, unplanned downtime, and customer satisfaction.

Developing and Leveraging Actionable Insight

Any path you choose toward IoT adoption will require processing large volumes of data from many sources, deriving new information from that raw data, and taking action based on that derived information.

Let’s explore each of these areas a bit.

Flawless Data Ingestion — Thanks to more than 60 years of electronic computing, it’s almost universally cost-effective to add computing and communications to just about anything. Extracting value from that data requires that the data generated by these things be processed by the analytics algorithms needed to find that value. If you’re relying on advanced machine learning or similar capabilities, chances are you’ll need to transport those raw data streams to the cloud.

Analytics and Actionable Insight — Searching and analyzing that raw data is the next step. Your goal should be to find actionable insight that will help you achieve a commercial goal, be it seizing a previously unreachable opportunity, avoiding an undesirable outcome, or doing what you’re already doing more effectively—cheaper, faster, more accurately.

Integrating into Workflow — Actionable insight without action is just academics. You need to trigger activity in response to that analytics insight by incorporating it as a trigger into a workflow. This could be as simple as an email or alert sent to a responsible employee or as involved as initiating a complex chain of downstream events in other systems.

Putting the systems and processing in place inevitably requires us all to deal with added complexity. What’s most important here is ensuring that the value created from actionable insight outweighs the effort and expenditure needed to operationalize IoT programs. After all, in a hyper-competitive marketplace in which disruption arises from companies you barely knew existed, tech for tech’s sake is not an option. Technology itself is just a means to an end. Market transformation is the key.

Determining the Right Approach for Your Business

Just like the rise of enterprise computing and the Internet, IoT technology adoption can drive market disruption and displacement. Business leaders must decide then how to apply IoT capabilities in their respective industries. Here are the necessary first steps:

Develop an understanding of how the IoT technology wave may affect your market position. Uptake’s partners are convinced that IoT will have significant impact on the future of their industries and, as a result, are determined to lead IoT transformation. They have chosen to leverage their data more effectively and help their customers achieve the same for their own businesses. New data intensive products and services, driven by analytics and workflow integration are all in the works across a broad spectrum of use cases.

Decide how you want to respond. You can invest aggressively and bring market transformation on your terms. You can fast-follow others in your markets while quickly learning from their missteps. The pace of innovation and intensity of competition in your market may even make it advisable to wait and see. While each partner’s needs are unique, a common theme we’ve seen is a well-considered determination to invest in industrial analytics and the systems needed to both capture the needed data and effectively capitalize on the resulting insight. Many have internal efforts that both inform their decision making and refine their thinking on when to build and when to partner for complementary expertise.

If you do decide to proceed, you’ll most likely need to partner to complement your core competencies. You’ll need a group that collaborates closely to help you develop and market IoT solutions aimed at your highest priority problems and opportunities. Our partners rely on Uptake to deliver entrepreneurial agility and strong data science, as well as high volume data management and data flow capabilities. They see our ability to dig in alongside their own experts and customers to co-create targeted solutions that cannot be achieved by a technology supplier working in a vacuum. It is this collaborative approach—coupled with our agility and expertise—that truly distinguishes what we do.

You may also have to transform the operations involved in creating and marketing these new solutions before they are ready to leverage co-creation and market smart, connected products and services. Smart connected products and services frequently demand changes to computing, power and networking capabilities of existing products, back office systems, sales and service workflows, parts and service strategies, and go-to-market approaches. Each of these operations need to adapt practices. Existing products and services may be impacted. Organizational alignment needs to be assured.

IoT can transform the dynamics of market competition, and enterprises must take those foundational steps toward digital transformation to make real strides. Cultivating the right partnerships are a crucial aspect of that.

Brad Nicholas is the Lead IoT Architect at Uptake.