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Despite considerable interest in the Internet of Things, many organizations do not yet have an active IoT project. Our recent research report, “Data Sharing and Analytics Drive Success With IoT,” finds that 60% of the organizations responding to our global survey do not yet have an active IoT project.
But that means that 40% of the organizations surveyed are incorporating IoT into their business model. What are some ways that they get started?
They Keep Initial Scope Small
Initial forays into the IoT are often small experiments: Companies choose an application that requires a limited investment and a relatively small number of IoT devices. For example, the Array of Things is “an urban sensing project, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will be installed around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use.”1 Because of the difficulty of accessing the IoT-connected devices after installation, the reliability of the network is paramount. Charlie Catlett, director of the Urban Center for Computation and Data and the head of the Array of Things project, told us that one of the key reasons for their slow, phased rollout of the sensor nodes was to get comprehensive data on the reliability of a node before installing the remainder. With their phased plan, they were able to test the nodes for things like weatherproofing and reliability before proceeding with a full installation.
But in IoT, scope has an additional dimension. Embarking on an IoT project means more than managing devices — it means managing new and deeper relationships with suppliers, customers, and even competitors. Many of the organizations in our study began with projects that involved a small number of stakeholders and thus required less coordination and collaboration with outside organizations.
The result of such an approach is that future phases aren’t saddled with large compatibility requirements from the first phase. Low investments mean lower sunk costs for replacement (if necessary). And fewer relationships mean fewer affected systems in other organizations.
They Think About Short- and Long-Term Value of IoT
Several of the executives we interviewed for the report recommended developing specific use cases in which IoT would benefit the organization, and then computing the organization’s overall ROI from those results. Many of the benefits of IoT are quantifiable.
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1. Array of Things Project. Frequently Asked Questions, 2016. https://arrayofthings.github.io/faq.html