By the time an organization is ready to move forward with IOT, one of the first questions we get is – how long will this take? and quickly followed up with – why does it take so long? These are fair questions that require the proper context.
Like most strategic business investments, a lot of time has already been invested to gain clarity about moving forward with an IoT project. Once there is alignment, what comes next is a new timeline, a gathering of talent, and the request for resources needed to enact the digital strategy. So, the issue becomes more about a desire to accelerate the timeline.
We know when implemented correctly, the IoT journey becomes transformational for the people, processes, and products of any company. To ensure that happens, we advocate that decision-makers do these 5 things before starting an IoT project, in order to execute on the strategy successfully and avoid unnecessary slowdowns.
1. Create and Design for Re-Use
Part of our role is to set realistic expectations and map a clear process for getting to the finish
line. Many companies haven’t developed custom IoT solutions before. Therefore, they don’t have a frame of reference for what’s needed to ensure project success. Without that understanding, expectations are just guesses or desires. The reality is closer to 18-24 months to develop a minimally viable product (MVP), but even that timeline can be condensed (more on that in a minute). Expectations also need to include realistic goal-setting with a measurable ROI over time.
2. Build on a Solid Foundation
For anyone who has searched for the success rate of IoT solutions knows it’s not good. But there is a valid reason for that out-of-whack data point. The 85 percent of projects estimated to have failed or that get abandoned are projects that didn’t deserve to be built in the first place. So how do you know what’s worthy of being built? By following a proven process. For us, every unique and customized project follows a process that involves human-centered design (HCD). When you understand your stakeholders (both internal and external) and identify their needs and pain points, then you can build a solution that delivers greater value. Don’t build what you think would be helpful or cool; build what you know adds value because the solution was built around the stakeholder’s wants and needs. HCD is the first of a multi-step process, and a small percentage of the total investment made at the outset, to ensure what gets built deserves to exist. Without HCD, companies put capital and confidence at risk in hopes that their ideas work with new technologies.
3. Appoint a Strong Product Owner
Ownership of any IoT project must come from within the company. A strong product owner understands and collaborates with the team on the budget and timeline, what’s essential and desirable, and what’s technically feasible. They manage any emerging issue through these lenses. They also assemble and manage the IoT team structure.
As new features and functionality are requested from stakeholders, the product owner can assess the feasibility and effort it would require to build out those features and weigh them against the desirability so the right decisions can be made. A strong product owner doesn’t chase after shiny things or go with gut instincts. They forge ahead with the essentials of what deserves to be built, and must manage others (who are not the customer) who might express their desire for something different. They know they will be measured on their ability to deliver a product that delivers outcomes within the agreed-upon project scope. The number-one cause of slowdowns, scope creep, and project churn that leads to going over budget, is rooted in weak product owners. This fact makes choosing a strong product owner a top priority.
4. Trust the Process
Most successful businesses rely on tried and true processes – and so does IoT development. Every IoT project we’ve been a part of or launched has gone through these steps. As we mentioned previously, our process starts with an intense focus on the stakeholders, which then informs the design and technical requirements that are implemented in development.
To appreciate the project timeline is to accept that not all processes are divided equally across the project lifespan. For example, hardware design is a time-consuming effort within the Development cycle. While the process may appear linear at a glance, iteration is involved in every step. Each new learning through development, stakeholder discussions, or intentional testing may result in a previous step of the process being revisited. This approach enables the team to be agile and stay focused on what deserves to be Every detail has to be perfect. With hundreds of details embedded into the board and its circuitry, there are an equal number of ways software can get bogged down with bugs. During and after development, the process of testing, identifying issues, and then fixing each one is essential to an IoT solution functioning properly. If the solution needs to be tested with an outside lab, a customer, or a third-party partner, these become additional feedback loops – and necessary fixes – that can extend the timeline. There is no short cut to doing this essential work that powers your unique IoT solution. Choose partners wisely and then trust them to be a guide using a trusted process.
5. Rethink IOT’s Role In the Company
With any long-term development project, patience is going to be tested – among the team and with leadership. When that happens, perspective is needed. An IoT project is not just another IT project. It represents a fundamental business shift. Consider these points: IT is a shared resource across the enterprise. The IoT team is not. IT is a cost center that gets stretched and backlogged with work to maximize the value of the expense. IoT represents efficiency gains and a new category (user experiences) for generating revenue. When applied to products for the customer, IoT not only enhances products, it affords the business to provide a data-driven service. Words like “technology” and “digital” come with preconceived ideas of what is possible. IoT is about the intentional pursuit of untapped potential. By embracing IoT for what it represents – and what it is not – the IoT development process can be seen and appreciated in a different light.
These considerations help set the tone, and keep teams on track and focused regarding the agreed-upon work. Collectively, they shield the team from distractions and additional inputs that have the potential of slowing down or derailing the project. And while there are no short cuts in IoT development, there is a way to get a head start.
Acceleration through Auris
Imagine cutting the standard development timeline of 18-24 months nearly in half. The programming required for IoT is significant, but much of it is redundant but necessary regardless of the project. This includes embedded hardware and software modules, AI processing capabilities (Edge), cloud integration, and security.
To accelerate the development process, we created Auris – a proven foundation where these essential and universal components are pre-programmed and ready to go. With this work completed in advance, we’re able to reduce the development timeline by as much at 50 percent for our clients, while still affording full customization to any IoT project. It also eliminates the need to recreate an IoT foundation with each new development while avoiding many of the pitfalls businesses experience when building IoT projects from scratch.
When companies take this guidance seriously and consider building from an accelerated foundation in Auris, we can get them to the IoT finish line quicker, help them realize a return on the investment sooner, and see them experience new growth afforded by a digitally driven economy.