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Answers to your questions from the Real IoT webinar series – webinar #2

November 10, 2016


Theresa Bui

Yesterday we dove further into our Real IoT webinar series with our second session, IoT Strategy – 8 Key Questions to Ask. Presented in partnership with ABI Research and hosted by the IoT Institute, this webinar focused on the critical questions you need to consider when planning an IoT business, to set the stage for successfully achieving your business goals. Together with Dan Shey, principal analyst at ABI, we explored questions ranging from how to prioritize customer use cases to determining whether to build or buy, to considering how to manage data governance.

Many thanks to everyone who joined us! Over half of you noted you’re in the information gathering phase, and you had lots of great questions. We’re addressing all of them here, and if you have additional questions, please let us know in the comments below.

In the new year, be sure to participate in our third webinar in this Real IoT series – you can sign up here.

All IoT vendors seem to use the same language and make the same promises. How do I know if I’m making the right choice for my business?

Evaluating IoT vendors is a critical exercise. That’s why it’s so important to look at your internal capabilities (where you are today) vs. your IoT business goals (where you want to be). That helps you decide whether you need a one-stop shop solution, specialized components, etc. Look for the right experience and scalability that align with the clearly-defined business outcomes you need to accomplish.

To help you make informed decisions, this webinar mapped out the key questions to ask. If you missed the webinar, check it on-demand. The eight questions will help you narrow it down to a short list more quickly.

You talk about better services for customers and operating more profitably. Aren’t there plenty of cases where those two things don’t go hand-in-hand?

If you think historically about IoT business models, achieving profitability for connected services was still yet to be determined. That has radically changed over the past five years. The cost of hardware and connectivity has dropped dramatically, which means you can now get more connected devices out the door faster. Also, the technology to analyze data from devices has grown very sophisticated, giving you actionable insight for developing new services you can deliver through your devices.

Many businesses are now able to deploy connected devices and services, and see new revenue in the first month. Profitability is much easier to achieve than it was 5 years ago.

I’d love to take a “walk, crawl, run” approach – but my boss wants us to do it all, now. How can I talk sense into him?

IoT is all about forging new ground, which includes many unknowns. It’s going to change your business model in some way, so it often makes sense to start small. In fact, trying to accomplish too much all at once increases risk. You can build a phased approach into your IoT strategy from day one. Map out all the use cases you plan to address with IoT, and prioritize them to roll out in phases to help ensure success.

Starting small can take many forms, and we highlighted some success stories in the first webinar in our Real IoT series. One great example is a company that didn’t change their current products, but has added managed connectivity on top of them, and charges for the service. It enabled the company to capitalize very quickly on IoT by delivering a value-add service that generates recurring revenue, and helps their customers get up and running faster as well.

Regarding internal stakeholders – it seems like this could be “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Are there people who should be left out of the IoT decision making?

No, no one should be left out and here’s why… It’s a step-by-step process that starts at the C-level to advocate the importance of IoT and provide funding. Then the ideation expands out to include many players such as product development, R&D, engineering, and IT, who will help create solutions based on prioritized use cases. The IoT strategy then gets socialized throughout the organization, where some groups will be more directly impacted than others, such as sales, customer care teams and retail distribution. In other words, the IoT project team lays the groundwork, but the rest of the organization has to operationalize the solution – so it’s important to get everyone aligned from the beginning.

What is IoT today vs. classic IoT? And how does the Clover point of sale system fit in?

In the beginning, there was M2M; machine-to-machine connections (such as those used in industrial manufacturing) were mainly how we thought about the Internet of Things. But IoT has grown up considerably since then. Today’s IoT business is all about connecting you and your customers. As you connect through devices, you can offer more complementary sets of value-add services. For example, smart vending machines can dynamically manage inventory and deliver purchase data for restocking the most popular products. Smart meters monitor and deliver data for more efficient utility usage. Connected cars enable new experiences that extend the driver’s digital lifestyle.

Point of sale systems like Clover are capitalizing on IoT to amplify the value of their offerings. In this case, the connected “things” are the POS devices used to swipe payment cards and transmit transaction data. But Clover recognized their products could be much more than that. They opened their POS environment and encourage developers to build apps that sit on their machines. Now they offer hundreds of apps that add value for small business retailers, and enhance the revenue opportunity Clover can expect from each customer. They’re a great example of an organization that strategically addressed the critical questions (we discussed in the webinar), and as a result are achieving bottom-line growth out of their IoT investment.

How can IoT enhance utility smart grids and improve the billing system to drive revenue?

A smart grid is about balance and efficiency, to ensure energy goes to the right place at the right time. To do that, you need to constantly and dynamically adjust to optimally deliver energy at the lowest cost and highest quality, whenever and wherever your customers need it. That’s the essence of IoT itself –which makes it a natural fit for utilities.

IoT gives you the real-time visibility to make sure all your end points are delivering services to meet customer demand, and the agility to make adjustments on the fly in response to fluctuations in energy usage. With near instant access to usage data across different quadrants, you can adjust energy delivery across the grid for greater cost efficiencies.

The Cisco website has more information about how IoT can enhance utility smart grids.

Can an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system be IoT?

An ERP can be integral to supporting your IoT initiative. As an example, we partner with SAP to help enterprises simplify the process of deploying and managing IoT services on a global scale. Our Control Center connectivity management platform integrates seamlessly with the SAP HANA® platform, providing actionable insights into Big Data such as service subscription and usage data, shortening the time to market for IoT services.

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