Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming important to remain competitive for almost every industry out there. Business goals for implementing IoT can range from improving internal operations to offering completely new services to improving regulatory compliance. But who at each company should be responsible for digging into this new world and defining how to implement IoT? We’ve learned that it’s important to have supporters across several groups to develop a truly successful IoT solution:
1. Initiative lead
Those who lead initiatives should always keep a pulse on competition, market conditions, changes in business models, risk assessment and supporting technologies among many other trends. This high-level perspective means executives should be the internal champions of initiatives like adopting IoT into an organization. Their involvement, however can range from setting high level direction and enabling teams within the organization to executing on an initiative directly.
An IoT project can be initiated from several members of the C-suite. The CEO is often a project champion who defines the long-term vision and business need. The COO can be very involved in projects that focus on internal operational improvement and the CTO is generally more involved with the improvement of external offerings or creation of new ones. The C-suite may also support project design, implementation and budgeting.
Most IoT solutions also involve an element of partnership between the IoT vendor and the implementing company since each side needs the expertise of the other to make things work and deliver ongoing ROI. This is why the head of partnerships or a director involved with technical partnerships often takes leadership of the initiative, identifying the right IoT company (or companies) and executing proof of concepts in the early stages.
2. Solution lead
Companies implementing IoT solutions to optimize internal processes will need to involve their operations group. Whether they are looking to aggregate higher quality data from a broad range of assets in the field for monitoring or want to apply preventative maintenance to machines on a manufacturing line, the operations group will help to lead such an effort. A leader within this group such as the COO or a VP/director will be a big part of the IoT project since data from many previously siloed areas of the business will become available across boundaries opening up important operational processes for change.
On the other side of operations is the product group, which needs to be involved in any external IoT solution that enables the company to offer a new or enhanced service to customers. A product manager or the head of product will likely be very involved with both the strategy of what type of connected solution needs to be developed as well as building that solution out. It’s important to pair the expertise of the IoT vendors/partners with the product team and CTO, who understand the existing product, roadmap and customer needs.
3. Implementation lead
The technical team that will need to work together with any IoT vendor to meld new technology into their ecosystem is a key decision maker in the process of selecting an IoT vendor. This team is often brought into the process later once a strategy is set, but they need to be involved as early as possible to provide feedback and identify any issues quickly. They will be involved from implementation through maintenance and support of the solution.
In addition to engineering, the IT and OT groups will need to work together more closely with the implementation of IoT as physical and digital technologies blur. Some form of these three functions will be involved in the successful execution of any solution.
4. End user
Last (but definitely not least) is the end user of any IoT solution, whether that’s a customer using a new product from the company or a production line manager using a new internal process. While not directly involved in the B2B interaction between companies, the end user needs to have a say in what type of solution is developed and the experience it delivers. It is always helpful if the vendor understands the industry that a solution is being built for and can share experience that has delighted end users in the past.
Each industry and company in that industry takes a different approach to a new technology like IoT that can change how their business is done. One certainty, however, is that implementing an IoT solution is a big change and a broad group from within each company needs to be on board and engaged. This includes the initiative lead sponsoring the project, the implementation lead integrating the new technology, a solution lead defining the solution and input from the end users throughout.
This is of course not an exhaustive list of who should be exploring IoT, but these are some of the common decision makers we’ve engaged with developing solutions for industry the past few years. Who in your company is most involved in identifying and executing on new technology trends like IoT?
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