One IoT Solution Please!

In the future, there will be two types of business model; those that leverage the benefits that IoT has to offer, and those that ‘used to exist’.

But that time has not yet arrived. There is every likelihood that IoT is facing a period in the wilderness before its virtues can materialise and we can take full advantage of its potential. According to Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle curve, IoT is right on the brink of plunging into a ‘trough of disillusionment’. But whether that plunge takes place, and how long IoT remains in a state of disillusionment, remains to be seen.

One of the major challenges we face with IoT is how to talk about it. How do you sell a complex new technology to businesses when they haven’t fully considered its potential impact? They may have a hazy or distorted understanding of what IoT is, let alone the difference it could make to their business.

We believe that one of the most effective ways to talk about such a new phenomenon is to focus on its ‘end benefits’ — those benefits that the end-user will experience as they interact with it. But this is easier said than done. Imagine you could travel back in time to the early nineties and had the chance to sell the internet to businesses. How would you describe it? What benefits would you talk about and how would you contextualise those benefits to a business with little or no knowledge of that technology? With hindsight there are perhaps dozens of ways you could talk about the virtues of an online world, but the challenge comes in selling an overarching vision that leads to adoption. Travel back to 2016 and IoT presents a similar conundrum. How do we sell IoT? What is that vision?

Looking at IoT in all its chaotic, nascent glory we can see that businesses are struggling to articulate, and sell, their offering. Hundreds of individual ‘IoT providers’ talk in detail about specific technologies and applications, sometimes using impenetrable jargon and specialised nomenclature that bears little or no relationship with the real world. As with any new technology, its full potential will be revealed by a handful of visionaries, and we believe that visionary thinking needs to be baked into IoT’s offering in order to prevent a prolonged spell in the wilderness.

In 2016 it is now evident that, as a technology, the internet has become an invisible commodity. It has permeated our society and businesses landscape to such a degree that it is ‘normal’ and what was once an innovation to change the World is now just business-as-usual. We can easily see that IOT will do the same. So what happens when innovations become invisible (like the internet)? Our focus shifts from the ‘how’ to the ‘what’ — we look at what a technology is going to do, the value that it provides to our customers, not ‘how’ it will work. This is how we sell IOT, by focusing on our customers, our customer’s customers and the benefits that all parties will receive.

This, therefore, is the first challenge that IoT faces; how do we present real enterprise solutions that businesses can understand and engage with?

The second major challenge is one of implementation. IoT providers must be able to follow through on their vision and generate a road map that their partners and clients can adhere to. Iterative development and stage-by-stage on-boarding will be key, with CEOs and CTOs being confident that their existing data and software architecture can continue to be utilised as part of this road map. Positioning IoT adoption as an act of creative destruction is unlikely to win many converts within large corporations — the need to justify sunk costs will be too strong. Although this may be a more viable strategy amongst the ‘piranha’ startup community.

Finally, businesses and organisations that seek to benefit from IoT need to be prepared to alter their DNA. Incorporating live data into their current operations and processing this data to make more intelligent decisions that drive efficiency is something that requires fundamental attitudinal change. Organisations and cities that adopt this way of thinking will progress faster than those that do not. Businesses that do will survive.

Ultimately there may be no need for us to talk about ‘IoT’ whatsoever. It is the application of connective technology whereby the world’s information is brought to life in a way that is accessible and useful. IoT is not sensors collecting data, or machines talking to each other (M2M). It is about the extraction of meaning from the physical world — meaning that can enhance the intelligence, the decision making power and the efficiency of every organisation in the world.

Helping (yes, actively helping) businesses achieve this level of augmented intelligence is something that we believe will differentiate visionaries from other ‘IoT’ providers. This is the level of ambition that will see IoT through the trough of disillusionment.

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