Close to three-quarters of Internet of Things (IoT) projects are failing, according to a 2017 study from Cisco. Indeed, just 26 percent of companies surveyed have had an IoT initiative that they consider a complete success.
The causes of failure are many, but one important reason stands out: IoT is the new toy in the sandbox, and organizations are often too willing to jump in and play with abandon. The problem is that they’re also playing with real money—their company’s money—and not focusing on the big picture.
To help ensure success, here are five ways to start your organization’s IoT project on the right foot—and avoid project failure:
1. Organizational alignment – Because IoT is the new kid, IoT projects are often treated like science experiments. Projects get too granular, too fast, and soon you’re tumbling down a rabbit hole. Instead of jumping in headfirst, consider the long game. What can you do to help your company meets its goals?
Focus on your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs)—such as increasing efficiency, improving customer satisfaction, reducing safety incidents, etc.—and find a way to align with them.
2. Ideation – Once you’ve identified key KPIs, invite stakeholders from across the organization to a four- to six-hour workshop. Talk about the issue you’re trying to solve and how to approach it. Does the technology exist to help address the problems at hand, or will you need to create a unique solution?
By understanding the needs of your stakeholders, you can move on to identifying the right solution that will positively impact KPIs.
3. Collaboration – Collaboration between IT and the business side is the No. 1 factor driving successful IoT projects, according to the Cisco study. So once you’ve identified a solution, make sure you’re working with the right people within the organization so you can understand the potential impacts of the solution. If you’re a healthcare provider who’s trying to improve patient satisfaction, for example, make sure that the patient satisfaction or marketing leader is in the room so he or she can trumpet your success. If it’s a project to provide a secure facility, ensure that in the process of providing a safe environment for people to work in you haven’t hamstrung yourself by keeping the finance and operations people in the dark.
4. Ownership – Define an executive sponsor who is responsible for the success (or failure) of the project. Sixty percent of IoT initiatives stall out at the proof-of-concept stage, according to the Cisco study. If it’s important enough to do a pilot, then it’s important enough to define the project owner—the one who can make sure that key stakeholders are involved, key milestones are achieved, and costs don’t spiral out of control.
5. Focus/Metrics – Determine the key metrics to hit in order to call the project a success. Then apply a “Shark Tank-like” focus to getting the right stakeholders involved and gathering the support needed to deliver project success.
Failure to take these steps will sink the project before it gets started. You’ll waste money, time, credibility—and potentially your job. Bottom line: You’re screwed.
Engage the Partner Ecosystem to Improve Project Success
The Cisco study also found that “engaging outside expertise is a top success factor globally and across all industries.” In fact, the most successful organizations engage the IoT partner ecosystem at every stage, starting with strategic planning and design and architecture, to maintenance, technical consulting, and data analytics after rollout.
If you lack the expertise in-house or don’t want to lose focus on your core business, find a partner who can assist. The right partner can bring best practices to help you identify organizational goals and KPIs, ferret out the right stakeholders, identify potential solutions and organizational impacts, and navigate through the organization to get agreement.
Many systems integrators also offer intensive workshops to get your organization started on the journey to IoT value. Take advantage of these resources to ensure you’re on the path to IoT project success.
MIKE TROJECKI is the vice president of IoT and analytics at Logicalis US, responsible for developing the company’s strategy, partnerships, and execution plan around digital technologies.