In this second of two blogs, we continue and conclude our discussions concerning "What We Learned at the Second Annual TAG IoT Symposium." We provide some answers to the questions around the importance of crafting business solutions that claim to use the IoT (as opposed to falling into the age-old trap of selling technology – or even believing it's so good that it'll sell itself!!).
In the first blog, Verto provided some background and context from the recent TAG IoT Symposium. In Part Deux, we expand on some of the challenges involved in articulating solutions using the IoT or the output from the IoT. Finally some words of advice in the "The Verto Verdict."
So, what are the challenges involved in converting the technology into something that provides the solution to a business problem?
There are no standard platforms. Many enterprises at the conference discussed how they had to build their platforms related to collecting data from multiple device manufacturers and the lack of expertise today. It was evident from several sessions that there are over 450 IoT Platforms today that incorporate sensors and data.
There are confusion and a lack of leadership based on economic ignorance and the sheer breadth of the application of IoT. Confusion and lack of leadership cause challenges when defining the goals, objectives, and then executing within an enterprise. The involvement of multiple stakeholders hinders progress. IT, the business units, and other stakeholders might all have their unique vision, which increases technical complexity and drives scope creep. Added to this there are many vendors involved in any IoT solution from ERP, HR, and CRM providers to wireless carriers, device sensor manufactures and custom software development companies. IoT initiatives abound with many moving parts.
There's a lack of skills around IoT, just as there is a lack of IT skills in general. The problems become acute when dealing with emerging ideas and technologies, like IoT. There are a few IT systems integrators that have these skills in Atlanta today. Some, like the Cumberland Group, is wasting no time, and have created IoT practices providing professional services around design, development, and deployment of IoT solutions.
The Verto Verdict
So, what's the verdict on all this? It's always difficult to read the tea leaves (unless your English, and we are) other than to make bland statements like "it's not a matter of if, but when," but here's a few thoughts:
Make sure your sales teams understand your prospects business and how your technology can affect change, don't assume it's so obvious that everyone knows!
Marketing needs to build case studies that demonstrate how your solutions address business's concerns including productivity, revenue, and new services.
Sell solutions, not technology. We were encouraged that all presentations related to how to build a business use case and how much data these new sensors/devices will produce
Many customers discussed how they used the technology to identify the type of usage and how to leverage the ultimate data analysis. The four kinds of information output are characterized as follows:
Descriptive – explains what happened
Diagnostic – explains why it happened
Predictive – forecast what might happen
Prescriptive – recommends action based on forecast
Ensure you know where you're playing and be clear about the messaging associated. A set of ideas as broad and dynamic as IoT requires discipline and clarity. Otherwise, your sales team will spend all their time trying to explain the meaning of life to your prospects. Compared to last year the thinking has moved on from purely visionary to more use cases and execution.
Many of the IOT vendors are startups providing API's, applications, sensors, and data analytics. All are pursuing new budget dollars. The IoT space will become even more crowded. Some companies will try to take early mover advantage, investing in educating their prospect. Those that lack the appetite or budgets to adopt this approach will play the "wait and see game." Waiting for markets to develop before they commit their sales and marketing resources. They won't all win.
Make sure you know where you're playing in this market and be clear about the messaging associated. A set of ideas as broad and dynamic as IoT requires discipline and clarity. Otherwise, your sales team will feel like they spend all their time trying to explain the meaning of life to your prospects. The real winners will be companies and sales teams that understand how to utilize business use case analysis and have real solutions, not just some cool technology