Lighting the Way to IoT Innovation

    Remember this joke? How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb?  The answer is: “None, that’s a hardware problem.”

    Well with the arrival of IOT this joke can be binned.  Technically, IoT stands for Internet of Things – but it really means the merger of operational technology and information technology (I love the fact that the acronym literally shows the coming together of IT and OT).

    IOT projects are, for many companies, the epiphany of digital transformation. As such many of the IOT projects they embark upon function as lighthouse projects, illuminating the path to the future for customers and employees alike. 

    With all the stakeholders in the room, and the high hopes accumulated, these projects are not the easiest to run. But that is not the only reason; IOT projects are hairy beasts for several reasons:

    • They tend to cross boundaries, inside as well as outside the organization.
    • They tend to touch a lot of different technologies, from hardware (sensors, devices) to telecommunications (networks) and software (security and integration).

    A side effect is that the IOT projects have an impact on people and departments across the chain. So, is there a way to handle these challenges?

    When you start your projects make sure that you have the right mix between the different capabilities; as well as IOT platform developers, make sure you have engineers to tackle the hardware-related problems (device integration). You also need architects, to figure out how to design a scalable platform that can integrate into the larger IT landscape, and UX designers that can build appropriate dashboards and user interfaces. 

    If the project is to commercially viable make sure marketing and sales are involved to come up with pricing schemes and ideas how to pitch the unique value early in the process – and make sure that those pricing schemes can be measured in the platform. This may sound strange, but as IoT projects will be chartered to disrupt the competitors in the market, there might be whole new business models that need to be supported.

    Your company might be thinking of renting your goods out on a per-usage basis, where previously they would have sold it for a one-off price. You can imagine that if you are going to rent it out on real usage, that – besides measuring the consumption – there will be all kinds of additional billing processes to create.

    Finally, if there is a component of intelligence, like predictive maintenance, makes sure you have a data scientist on board who can validate that the data that is collected can be analyzed and taken into account appropriately.

    Getting all these teams aboard and keeping them aboard is a challenge in itself. So, in my next blogs I will give you some ideas how to manage your project successfully by focusing your teams at the heart of the project – your IOT platform. 

    Bart Schouw is Software AG’s Global Industry Director looking after all industry solutions related to the Internet of Things (IoT) with special focus on Predictive Maintenance and Customer Experience. Bart started his career in IT after graduating in Business Administration and has 20+ years of experience in the field. After working for over a decade in the banking sector he moved to the software industry, specialising in real-time analysis and decision making software.

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