What does it take?

October 23, 2015

IoT, IoE, M2M or whatever we call it has three primary deliverables: sustainability, security and efficiency. Each of these are massively important in all organisations. And like if that wasn’t enough, they are almost always interlinked – a more secure solution is often more efficient and saves a little of our planet for example. So what’s stopping all of us from running after these benefits? It actually takes quite a lot to get there but done correctly it’s almost always worth the effort. A simplistic description of what it takes could look like this:

• understand the current business well enough to see what issues or opportunities to work on
• time and mandate to work on them
• a couple of ideas on what to do
• simplistic understanding of what’s in the toolbox today
• prototyping and user testing over and over and over again
• make a business case, plan or something like that
• guts to bet on it
• development and proof of concept testing
• pilot testing
• focus on processes and people
• roll-out

IBaroundPrototyping with user testing is probably the single most important part since without a clear view of exactly what to do, what users want and so on, the projects most often become very expensive failures. And up until recently it was very complicated and expensive to make working hardware prototypes. But today we have a range of affordable fantastic devices for prototyping like iBeacons and TI sensortags. And together with developer tools like Evothings Studio a working prototype is only hours or maybe a day or two away from real life tests on mobiles and pads. Further more, it is too abstract for normal human beings to visualise what adding IoT to something will allow us to do. We need to try it out to understand.It is my experience that most organisations are stumbling on other things than technology when trying to figure out how to utilise IoT in their business. At the same time adding IoT for the right things and at the right time will be game changers across industries. The countries who can enable citizens to do a fair share of what the healthcare system is doing for them today (like the banks did) will make massive gains in efficiency. The manufacturer of fridges who figure out how to provide them as a service to their customers will change the game, increase predictability and help save the planet. Avanti!

None of these things are even close to rocket science, most of them have been done many times before and very few have anything to do with technology in general or IoT in specific. The thing that we are less used to is to actually connect the things physically. It’s about hardware and hardware is challenging by definition – ask the next VC you come across. Design for manufacturing, mechanics, design, labour cost, DOA, electronics, material, tools, power, freight, etc are typical things we need to be on top of. And that require quite many people to be involved.

PS. Don’t forget that the key difference between when we connected people and organisations to the Internet and now when we connect things, is that ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse.

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