How to Make Your IoT Vision a Reality

By Sukamal Banerjee

Driving business outcomes is a key deliverable from a successful Internet of Things program, but you need to be flexible and willing to adapt.


A recent Cisco survey found that nearly three quarters of all Internet of Things (IoT) projects are unsuccessful. Such lackluster performance in IoT projects is attributed to the following:
• IoT projects take a long time to complete.
• The quality of data collected is not good, or the data is not put to good use.
• IoT expertise is lacking.
• There are improper or rough IoT integrations.
• The IoT projects overshoot budgets.

Despite these reasons, the IoT holds tremendous potential for businesses, and savvy leaders are looking to leverage it as soon as possible. Apart from the navigation of technology adoption, it is equally important to identify the benefits. Investing in pre-planning and getting the right constituents on board is more likely to see success with an IoT project. In addition, it might be a smart move to “think big, but start small,” and to then scale iteratively but rapidly.

Getting it right from the beginning and staying on track are two of the most important aspects of an IoT project. In a 2017 global survey of more than 250 IT decision makers run by HCL and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 81 percent of respondents said they had either begun their IoT journey or planned to do so within the next 12 months. But more than 50 percent of respondents felt they were already behind in fully harnessing IoT capabilities, and 43 percent said this failure negatively impacted customer satisfaction.

To get the planning right from the beginning, a program leader should consider three aspects. First, he or she should get CXO approvals and alignment; most IoT projects will be cross-functional in both impact and outcome, so a top-driven approach will help expedite decision-making and adoption. In addition, for a project using technology and standards that are still evolving, getting executive buy-in and expectation alignment is critical. Otherwise, the risk from failure is high.

Second, the program leader should ensure there is alignment between business operations and IT. The IoT is a technology enabler aimed at improving or transforming operations that touch existing technology infrastructure. Therefore, working with careful planning, sharing responsibilities and ownership, and having common goals in mind are critical.

Finally, he or she should make sure that the right data-collection system is in place. This will include creating a blueprint of the data that needs to be captured, and establishing a reliable communication channel and an IoT data platform that creates intelligence from the data. Once the data is captured in the right way, extracting actionable intelligence from it to drive informed decisions is how transformational value is created.

Here are a few best practices for IoT projects:
• Make sure that the project has defined, tangible outcomes. This helps in achieving the desired roadmap.
• Be realistic in planning your IoT project. Especially if you are an early IoT adopter, be cognizant of the fact that your organization’s capabilities will be limited and that there will be much learning required as your project takes shape to deliver.
• IoT-led business transformation will also need extensive organizational change management, which needs to be carried out skillfully. Adjusting to new ways of working, new processes and new policies needs to happen in lock-step to achieve the desired end objectives.
• Significant IoT projects may affect multiple teams across an organization. It’s important that you involve these teams from the onset, and that you establish a culture of shared ownership to drive the project’s success. Identify and secure the commitment of key business leaders to ensure that the IoT projects receives the necessary focus and support from all quarters of the organization.
• Make sure to build the necessary partnerships, with teams inside your organization, as well as externally with IoT technology vendors, experts and consultants, in order to ensure that your IoT capabilities are well augmented.

Driving business outcomes is a key deliverable from a successful IoT program. However, to make your IoT vision a reality, you need to be flexible and willing to adapt. Approaching such projects with significant levels of controls and preconceived notions will only lead to disappointment. An open approach has a better chance of success.

Sukamal Banerjee is the corporate VP of engineering and research and development services at HCL Technologies, where he also serves as the global head of IoT WoRKS, the company’s Internet of Things business unit. He is frequent speaker on the changes that the IoT will bring to society and business, including presenting at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos on the seven ways the Internet of Things can help end world hunger.