Benson Chan, Senior Consultant at Strategy of Things, explains how IT managers can accelerate IOT adoption.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is here!

From self-driving cars, smart products and innovative business models, IoT is rapidly transforming the world we live, work and play in. Cities are becoming smart cities that serve their citizens in ways never possible before. Companies are selling “outcomes”, instead of traditional products. Data and information are the building blocks for new services that drive new customer value.

Audio video (AV) technology plays a critical role in this digital transformation. Developments in both AV and information technology (IT) are leading to a ‘convergence’ of the two sectors with open connectivity, the Internet, acting as the technical catalyst that’s enabling changes in the way people live and work through mobility, access to information, and collaboration.

In Singapore, assistive technology for the elderly is a strategic priority as its population ages. Telehealth systems are planned that will deliver care for patients with limited mobility. Cameras and sensors, integrated with activity trackers and artificial intelligence-based algorithms, passively monitor resident movement and alert caregivers and first responders of unusual patterns.

In Europe, many smart cities employ digital signage at bus stops, in kiosks and other locations to track parking space availability, provide tourists with directions, alert residents of transit information and schedules. In stadiums and shopping malls, digital signage, cameras and sensors integrate with its visitors’ wearable technologies and smart phones to deliver customised content and enhance the visitor experience.

In the workplace, augmented reality and virtual reality systems integrated with IoT can simplify worker tasks, increase safety and improve productivity.

Despite its transformational potential, most organisations, from cities to enterprises, are not ready for the new digital reality. In an era of rapid disruption and digital transformation, IT and AV executives and managers must lead the charge. It is these people who must recognise the convergence and bridge the gap between technology, business, engineering and operations. You must be evangelists, teachers, facilitators and innovators.

To succeed, I’ve listed six things you must do to accelerate IoT adoption within your organisation.

Increase your organisation’s IoT IQ

Start the journey by increasing awareness, knowledge and conversations around IoT throughout the organisation. This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Hosting a series of regular brown bag “lunch and learn” sessions
  • Sharing information in internal newsletters and other communications
  • Speaking at company meetings and executive briefings
  • Creating mini courses — live training, recorded videos and podcasts
  • Inviting outside speakers — business leaders, customers and other innovators
  • Hosting demo days to showcase examples of what is possible

Create IoT adoption catalysts within your organisation

In chemistry, catalysts are facilitators that make a chemical reaction happen, or happen faster. Similarly, your organization can facilitate IoT adoption through a team of in-house IoT catalysts. This cross-functional team is well versed and up to date on innovation methodologies, IoT technologies, best practices and applications.

Catalysts facilitate IoT adoption by:

  • Being the organization’s “go-to” team for IoT questions, planning and strategy
  • Engaging with business and operations teams to uncover IoT opportunities
  • Identifying existing projects where small IoT pilots can be attached
  • Sharing success stories and learnings across the organization
  • Mitigating barriers to IoT adoption (infrastructure, policies, and processes)

Build a sandbox infrastructure for innovation and experimentation

 IoT by itself is not innovation, although it may be built with innovative technologies. It’s the problems that it solves and the way it does it that creates innovation. Sustainable innovation doesn’t come from a flash of inspiration. It comes from the hard work of understanding the real underlying problems, hypothesizing possible solutions, building experiments, testing, validating and repeating. Organizations that can do this well become innovative market leaders.

IT organisations facilitate IoT innovation by building a “sandbox” for experimentation and proof of concept development. This sandbox comprises of an IoT platform, connected to a non-production IT and AV environment and data. It has tools to create simple software applications, run simulations, analyse data, and collect user feedback. It is designed for easy setup, configuration and connection to a variety of edge devices. Its goal is to allow IoT innovators throughout the organization to test ideas, develop proof of concepts and curate future projects.

Prioritise learning projects and pilots

Managers must actively seek out, support and prioritise early IoT projects with the goals of learning, experimenting and uncovering challenges. Doing this now enables the organisation to develop the core capabilities to execute later.

When evaluating learning or pilot projects, don’t solely use criteria reserved for more established solutions, such as ROI and cost. Doing so will lead to a portfolio of projects in which IoT and innovation projects are at the bottom of the priority list. Evaluate and prioritise projects based on the following additional criteria

  • Learning value and skill building
  • Organizational impact
  • Future project scalability
  • Cross-functional involvement
  • Problem type solved
  • Integration and interoperability

Get your infrastructure ‘IoT ready’ 

Today’s IT and AV infrastructures, processes and policies could hinder IoT project success, adoption and scaling. IoT presents new challenges and exacerbates others that IT managers must address now. These include:

  • Security of “things” inside and outside the firewall
  • Integration and management of disparate data from multiple sources
  • Integration of legacy, operations and specialised systems
  • Data to learning to execution of complex events and activities
  • Agility and scalability to meet dynamic workloads and storage
  • Mission critical and low latency processing at scale
  • “Things” administration, management and support

Partner for success

The IoT ecosystem is still evolving and largely fragmented. Knowledge is being created at a rapid pace. In this dynamic environment, doing it alone is not an option. IT must collaborate with external IoT partners to learn faster, execute better, and reduce project risk.

Collaboration may take many forms and includes:

  • Knowledge exchange through industry or peer forums
  • Contributing to industry panels, papers, and working groups
  • Formal engagements for knowledge transfers (e.g. industry analyst briefings)
  • Leveraging industry frameworks (e.g. Industrial Internet Consortium, etc.)
  • Engaging external consultants and specialists to augment current capabilities
  • Utilising third-party solutions instead of building it in-house

To this end, a visit to Integrated Systems Europe (6-9 February 2018, RAI, Amsterdam) is a must. This annual European flagship event for the AV industry features over 1200 exhibitors, demonstrating IOT-connected products and solutions for unified workplace and business collaboration; digital signage; immersive augmented and virtual reality applications; the latest smart building technologies and much, much more. Registration for ISE 2018 is now open just visit https://www.iseurope.org/.

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