Gain exclusive recommendations from six experts across the IoT industry at Microsoft Azure, EY, Thales, Relayr, Chasm Group and Eseye in this blog. Together they have shared their valued insights and advice to help companies develop disruptive IoT innovations or embrace IoT to disrupt how they manage the physical aspects of their organisation.
1. Build from an established base
Start with what you already do, make, or sell, then explore how integrating connectivity and utilising data can deliver a better or higher value experience.
Consider not just improving your product, but whole new ways it could be used. Start with the user need, not the product, and imagine what you would give them if there were no limits. Only then look at how tech can enable it.
Research by McKinsey supports our experts view, saying: “IoT leaders are three times more likely than laggards to say that their top IoT priority is adding IoT capabilities to existing products”.
2. Build a business case for your IoT project
All IoT projects should start with a business case: What value does it deliver to the user? Does it create something new? Will someone pay for it, and will they pay enough to make it worthwhile? Will this new approach need changes to your business, and how hard will they be to make?
Create room to innovate and explore ideas, but keep the business case in mind, and only take them forward if there is a clear rationale for doing so.
3. Consider new business models
Don’t limit your thinking to sticking connected sensors into existing products – consider whether doing so opens opportunities to do things differently.
Does it allow you to sell a subscription rather than a product, or to charge for value? Does it allow you to cut out the middleman and become the supplier of product, refills, and maintenance, all delivered exactly when needed? Does it provide you with data that allows you to develop new services, or make your offer more bespoke? Perhaps the data it creates is so valuable that you start giving your product away.
4. Divide core vs non-core technology, and build an ecosystem of partners
Identify what is your core proprietary technology that you can develop to create differentiation and value. If your core technology is vending machines, focus on what they would look like as an IoT device, what would that enable from a business perspective and what needs to be done to make it possible. This will happen in house, and that is where you will create new value.
Separate this from enabling technology, such as connectivity and cloud solutions, which are unlikely to be your core expertise, and which can be bought in easily. Clearly delineate what you need to develop and where existing solutions can seed progress.
To support non-core business, look outside your organisation for partners that can take technical challenges outside your core competency off your hands, such as connectivity, data storage and processing. There’s huge value in having trusted partners that can remove roadblocks and allow companies to focus on rapid product innovation.
5. Design products that scale globally
IoT creates global opportunities. Even if you previously only sold locally, IoT can allow a fleet of global products all managed through a cloud hub. Consider what will happen as you grow – where will your products end up? How will you manage the data?
This means designing in connectivity that works in a convenient way for the user, in any location where your product might be used. Ensure you have the right cloud and analytics support to scale up as data increases and becomes more complex. Make devices secure by design, since security is hard to add in later.
“As we connect devices, we expose a surface for hackers and this potential threat undermines user trust, which is a key-value to protect… IoT applications need security to be embedded from the start as security is very hard to retrofit.” – Andreas Haegele, VP of IoT, Thales.
6. Create structures that support innovation
Finally, disruptive IoT project is only possible with the right corporate structures and culture. Especially for industries not born in the digital age, there may be a need for a change of mindset.
Companies need to create an ‘Incubation Zone’ with an innovative culture and room for experimentation. Here teams can try small scale projects and create quick wins in IoT. These then provide a reference for success which shows it can work, inspiring others. This can then gradually build, creating a rhythm of increasing successes.
Take an agile approach to project delivery and be ready to stop if there is no clear value. IoT programmes can be killed by endless unsuccessful pilots. Move quickly and try lots of projects. Start with limited deployments to limit risk, and gradually scale with sensible checks on progress.
Where an innovation seems has proven itself to have truly disruptive potential, it should be assigned to a ‘Transformation Zone’, which is singularly focussed on growing it to a point where it is a significant revenue generator. A major reason companies fail on disruptive projects is to neglect this and hand it over to the core business which is focussed on maintaining existing revenue and sees a new disruptive product with low revenue as a distraction.
If you really want to deliver transformative innovations, all of this needs the full support of the C-suite, and active involvement and sponsorship from people with a voice at the top table.
We hope these six recommendations have got your mind whirring with new thoughts! These insights are designed to challenge the status quo and inspire you to consider innovation from different perspectives. After all, the only limit to IoT is your imagination.
If you enjoyed reading, why not get a copy of our IoT Special Report? In it you’ll find IoT trends and predictions, as well as exclusive interviews from the following contributors:
- Tony Shakib, IoT Business Acceleration Leader, Microsoft Azure
- Miroslaw Ryba, Global IoT Leader, EY
- Andreas Haegele, VP of IoT, Thales
- Josef Brunner, CEO, Relayr
- Peter van der Fluit, Principal, Chasm Group
- Nick Earle, Chairman & CEO, Eseye