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IoT Success Demands Engaged Stakeholders

Added to IoTplaybook or last updated on: 10/29/2018
Selling the Value of the IoT

It’s abundantly clear that the Internet of Things offers a compelling value proposition. Yet connecting devices and touchpoints to generate ROI can prove daunting. With hundreds or even thousands of sensors and devices comprising an IoT project—and systems that span departments, companies, and even countries—ensuring that strategy and technology are tightly aligned is critical.

No factor plays a bigger role in achieving IoT project success than stakeholder input. It’s important to survey key constituents in order to identify opportunities and guide the general direction and scope of a project. By  understanding what different groups require, desire, and aspire to use connected devices and systems for, an integrator can guide a project to its stated goals. Unfortunately, in the rush to design and deploy a project, stakeholder input may wind up receiving short shrift. Here’s a look at five crucial steps to take when collecting stakeholder input:

  1. Identify the value points. The starting point for an IoT initiative is to understand how, when, and where a project delivers value to the business or ecosystem. As a result, identifying those “value points” and the entities associated with each one is critical. These may include channel partners, company departments, and customers. This approach and the resulting input should help you determine everything from sensors and communication protocols to data formats.
  1. Acknowledge who’s ultimately paying for the project. The IoT, even more than traditional IT, reaches across groups. It’s vitally important to identify which of those groups is responsible for an IoT project’s funding for two reasons. First, the group or groups that are paying should have the most influence. Second, if the group that benefits most doesn’t pay the most, internal politics and bickering may torpedo results.
  1. Recognize the desires of each  group. Different stakeholders may have entirely different ideas about what an IoT project should accomplish, and how it should be designed and built. It’s also vital to set realistic expectations and have a clear rationale for selecting a technology or approach. What benefits one group may not benefit other groups or the organization.
  1. Understand the actual needs of different groups versus the desired ones. An IoT project can devolve into chaos if there’s a mismatch between desires and actual requirements. It’s important to weigh the often-competing demands of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, risk, and customer satisfaction to prioritize features, technologies, and the overall IoT framework.
  1. Devise the solution that best fits the needs of the organization. An IoT project isn’t about which stakeholder “wins” by controlling technology and the flow of data. It’s about what’s best for the organization, as well as its partners and customers. The end goal of any IoT implementation worth pursuing is to unleash innovation and disruption. Integrators are responsible for reminding stakeholders that they’re only a piece of the IoT puzzle and then making the right decisions for the company as a whole.

Samuel Greengard is a business and technology writer based in West Linn, Ore. He is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).