The internet of things: Strategy must-dos

Think Progress Team

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Well over 8 billion connected devices will be in use globally throughout 2017. That’s up 31 per cent from 2016, and it’s forecast to breach the 20 billion barrier by 2020. You may have a plan to take advantage of the internet of things, but its rapid spread could mean that business strategy is already out of date.

Figures from Gartner research show that the internet of things represents enormous opportunities for businesses of all sizes, crystallising tech industry sentiment. Bringing things like sensors, cloud solutions, processing, big data analytics and machine learning under the same umbrella should result in up to US$2 trillion of spending this year alone.

How can your business capitalise? Before engaging with developers and investing in new hardware and applications, and before even thinking about potential solutions, you must first get a handle on the questions your team faces.

Building a robust internet of things strategy can be split into three segments: prioritising and articulating options; identifying requirements; and drafting a roadmap.

1. Articulate the building blocks of your strategy

With most internet of things spending set to be generated by enterprise – US$964 billion on hardware alone in 2017 – bottoming out your options must be priority number one. A radar sweep of your industry is a must – understand your strengths, weaknesses and competitors. Most importantly, know your customers. What are their greatest frustrations? What do they expect now? How can their experience of working with your business be improved, and where is the data to back it up?

Value-chain and profit-pool analysis of your industry is the logical next step. This should be as broad as possible. Don’t restrict yourself by focusing only on your current business model. Many enterprises launch speculative business offerings at various points of their value chain purely to size up new opportunities.

After that, the most important needs of the whole process must be considered: those of your customers. Detailed research and discovery work are critical to understanding pain points and holes in your offering for both current and future customers. Don’t shy away from difficult areas. This should include a comprehensive map of the customer journey from start (which is well before a customer engages with your company) to best outcome. Insight from the people who pay for your products will inform and validate your strategy.

2. Identify your business’s requirements

What are the technical needs that will ensure your strategy is realised? Which user stories and needs have you identified as most important? And what are the project operating costs?

These are some of the higher-level questions you’ll need to ask before fleshing out your strategy blueprint. You’ll also need to consider data collection and measurement, as well as operating and performance environments

3. Design your roadmap

This is as much about communicating your strategy to help it gain traction as it is about formalising it. Once you’ve filled in the blanks and joined everything up, you need to be able to share with others what the road to implementation will look like.

You might want to write a sample press release, which will clarify and boil down the roadmap into a succinct announcement. You could draft answers to potential questions, and a user manual will pitch your roadmap to the people it is designed to benefit.

After that? You need to consider security. We’ve published a list of considerations here.

As you plan your strategy, remember that you are not designing a master key to success – you are refining a crucial tool. And by considering the issues that are applicable to all areas of your business, your customers will see the benefit.

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