I pay close attention to technology adoption trends. As a CIO, you undoubtedly do the same. Have you noticed the many articles and blogs that provide advice on how to monetize ideas for products and services in the Internet of Things (IoT) and claim the return on investment in customer satisfaction and new competitive advantages can be huge? Have you also noticed the reality of slow adoption and deployment of these IoT ideas? Is this the case in your organization too?
The use cases for the IoT show a powerful set of capabilities and technologies that hold the promise of creating tremendous value from collecting, analyzing and acting on the continuous flow of information from data and connected devices (“things”). Clearly there are great opportunities for transforming our world by creating completely new products and services. So what is the speed bump slowing the adoption in businesses?
It’s not that the requisite sensors and edge devices aren’t available. It’s not that we lack data-gathering capabilities in big data to aggregate and store the data. We have the analytics tools to process and extract data and make decisions and take actions based on that information. And even the price of sensors has come down so it’s economically feasible to connect “things.” So the problem is not the maturity of the technology.
The problem is that IoT deployments are typically cross-functional in nature, cutting across multiple departments such as application development, IT, customer service, marketing and sales. In many organizations, these departments are silos that don’t work together to a great extent. But they’ll all need to take an integrated approach to the IoT deployment from the point of product design to manufacturing it, embedding connectedness and security, then to market and sell the product or service and finally the customer service team needs to provide support.
All these departments would be impacted, yet none of them individually has responsibility for the vision or the execution of it. Hence the challenge and the reason why we have slow adoption of the IoT.
No one party has the responsibility for the vision or enough accountability in the organization to sponsor and drive the change. And where an organization has IoT opportunities, it requires extremely senior sponsorship and active change-management leadership across multiple siloed departments.
Successfully developing and deploying a new IoT product or service in your organization requires a compelling, powerful vision with a robust strategic intent behind it, and a cross-functional team capable of leading change across multiple functions.
Perhaps your organization is one of the many businesses that have IoT trials and pilots underway with the products not yet fully deployed. The most important success criteria for successful deployment is the investment in a compelling vision, strategic intent and cross-functional team. You will almost certainly find the tools and technologies are available to be successful; they will not be the major constraint. Leadership’s inability to define and drive the project across multiple functional areas will most likely constrain your progress.