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10 ways to prepare enterprises for the Internet of Things

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Preparing an enterprise to embrace the Internet of Things means more than simply linking with remote devices or sensors. The IoT means rethinking an organization’s relationship with technology, and the possibilities that are opening up. These possibilities go far beyond what anyone could have even imagined a couple of years ago.

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Photo: Joe McKendrick

Managers and employees need to recognize that IoT is not simply a technology, but a new way of doing business. It means a 24×7 relationship with customers. It means employing analytics to understand and predict product performance.

These and other shifts were explored by Maciej Kranz, vice president of Cisco’s Strategic Innovations Group, who observes that many of the pieces of IoT success are not yet in place at enterprises. In his latest book, Building the Internet of Things: Implement New Business Models, Disrupt Competitors, and Transform Your Industry, Kranz lays out the key steps required to move into the IoT sphere:

Think different, don’t be afraid to be unconventional. The IoT visionary “isn’t being asked to invent, engineer, or build IoT,” need not be a scientist or an engineer,” Kranz observes. “What this visionary really needs to be is inquisitive, thoughtful, and something of a maverick, because the business and its processes need to be looked at in new, possibly unconventional ways.”

Start with the business opportunity, not the technology. “The primary goal of IoT is to solve business problems, not enrich technology vendors or excite the company’s tech geeks with a cool project,” Kranz says, urging IoT proponents to also ignore the hype and focus on the business justification. “If you can’t identify the business justification for your IoT project right away, then continue learning, experimenting, and benchmarking your results against your peers’ results,” he states. This is also a good time to seek out an executive champion to provide visibility and guidance at the C-suite level. A grassroots effort will only go so far,

Start with easy-to-solve problems. There are many basic problems that have been flummoxing enterprises for years, such as having real-time access to remote operations, or addressing product failure in a timely manner. Pick out the low-hanging fruit to start IoT efforts, then move on from there. “Think big, but start small,” Kranz advises. “Start with a low-risk project that has clear benefits, then become increasingly more ambitious as your expertise and support grow.”

Do it as a team and as an enterprise — and standardize as much as possible. “Lone wolves won’t succeed with IoT. This is a team sport,” Kranz says. Assemble an “ecosystem of partners from inside and outside the company, and make sure they can work together well. Adjust the processes and KPIs appropriately. Insist on open standards throughout.”

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