5 Reasons Your IoT Strategy May Fail (And How You Can Save It)

Mimi Spier, senior director of marketing and strategy for the Internet of Things (IoT) at VMware.

Mimi Spier, vice president, Internet of Things (IoT) at VMware.

The perceived and hyped benefits of IoT are numerous and highly compelling. There are caveats to the IoT euphoria. A recent Business Insider Intelligence report forecasts that there will be 55 billion connected IoT devices by 2025. With nearly $15 trillion in IoT investments projected by the same year, there’s a significant chance for companies to make costly, complicated and potentially fatal mistakes. With so much at stake, how can your business build an IoT strategy that succeeds? Let’s start by thinking through the top five reasons your IoT strategy may fail.

1. Your IoT strategy isn’t founded in business reality.

IoT’s potential is bound only by imagination. Every idea is seemingly the best, coolest idea. However, limitless ideas often result in organizational blindness and paralysis. And that leads to wasted resources, missed deadlines and frustrated teams.

Consider first pursing ideas that solve your customers’ problems, outside your company and within. For your customers, this could be an IoT-based extension of a current product. It could be a new service or product offering that leverages data from your users to create personalized interactions and communications. Internally, identify opportunities and build support for IoT projects that improve key facets of your users’ experience.

2. Your IoT strategy isn’t tightly integrated with an execution plan.

Execution without a solid strategy is a path to nowhere. Align your strategic direction with tactical execution. IoT success requires a cohesive, transformative big-picture strategy actively driven with top-down executive support and bottom-up business process execution. Recruit people who can build a bridge between intellectual (talent) and business (budget) resources. Some IoT experts even recommend creating a senior executive–level position and dedicated multidisciplinary team specifically to focused exclusively on IoT initiatives. Yes, it is that important.

3. Your IoT strategy fails to adapt organizational capability, culture and processes.

Designing, architecting and implementing modern IoT, cloud and data analytics technologies is now an imperative for all organizations. Skills and knowledge gaps related to IoT and advanced technology are numerous in many organizations. IoT initiatives very often bridge across multiple departments and business units. Success in IoT requires collaboration across organizational boundaries—this is often completely new for many organizations. Existing organization structures and processes often organized as silos to support specific products may hinder IoT.

Organizations will have to plan strategically and prepare to close these gaps rapidly. Consider building multidisciplinary teams empowered and goaled to build new forms of collaboration and dynamic data-driven business processes. Consider hiring new technology experts, contracting with established technology providers and/or hire consulting capabilities. This will help build new internal knowledge and lead the business process and cultural changes required for successful.

4. Your IoT strategy fails to recognize data as the capital for success.

IoT is about the ability to collect, analyze and make decisions on the right data from the right sources. However, blindly collecting massive amounts of data from a myriad of devices and sensors is a recipe for IoT disaster. Thinking your data scientists can create magic from an ocean of gloppy data is a fool’s pursuit—assuming you even have access to data scientists—either internal staff or contractors.

Comprehensive data capture, aggregation and integration with your core business systems, analysis, storage, protection and security are all critical variables in IoT architectures. Data processing in edge devices is a rapidly growing component in successful approaches to making actionable intelligence the lifeblood of an organization. Processing data at the edge accelerates responses by eliminating delays when data transverses wide area networks to and from public clouds.

Build a distributed digital data brain that links data processing at the edge, in corporate data centers and in the public cloud. Your data becomes agile and actionable to make your IoT initiatives successful.

5. Your IoT strategy fails to make agility a core capability.

It is extremely early days for IoT. Get ready to embrace an accelerating rate of change. IoT, like every technology paradigm shift, is extremely difficult and complex to try and predict exactly where things will be in two, three or four years. The key to IoT adoption is creating an open, scalable digital architecture foundation. An agile approach helps you scale quickly and supports plugging in new technologies when they’re ready.

Build a digital foundation with IoT.

The potential for IoT success is real. You just need the right business-centric idea that delivers real customer value. Interconnectivity and collaboration accelerate organizational learning and innovation. Brainstorm with your team, your customers, your partners. Reach out into your community by participating in industry organizations, events and partnerships. Create an organization that is agile, creative and focused on execution. Only then can you build an IoT strategy that doesn’t need saving.

Learn more about top IoT initiatives and enterprise solutions.