Article | May 22, 2017

Three Steps To IoT Success

By Magnus Jern, Chief Innovation Officer, DMI

Field Service IoT

Thinking about how to leverage and deploy IoT in your business?

We've found that the most common way that businesses deploy IoT solutions is that they find a technical platform they like and deploy it. Example: vendors pitch different solutions for asset tracking and one is selected.

This usually fails to make the most of IoT and the investment as it's focused on the solution and not the problem. What any organization should do first is identify the problems they are facing and then look for possible solutions that the IoT can provide.

Here are three steps to successfully deploy and leverage IoT in any organization with examples from a real company.

Step One

Start by interviewing employees, managers, partners, and customers to understand what challenges they are facing in their daily jobs and interactions. Prioritize based on the opportunity to solve the challenges.

For example, a construction company identified the following challenges:

A) When concrete is not delivered on time, workers are unproductive during the waiting period

B) Workers don't comply with the safety rules when entering construction sites

C) Measurements of accuracy and quality are performed but not reported

D) Building material and tools are lost or difficult to find on sites

E) On-site energy costs are higher than budgeted due to lack of control

F) Machines and tools break down, causing work interruptions

Each of the problems is analyzed, and losing or misplacing tools and materials (D) is prioritized as the most costly issue for the business.

Step Two

Based on the problems identified, the next task is to come up with possible solutions. 

Rather than devising the technical solution, companies should first focus on developing concepts that can solve the problem, prototype and test them with the stakeholders. A prototype can be as simple as a sketch or as advanced as a working hardware prototype depending on resources, time, and budget.

Once the concepts have been tested, identify the best one based on business opportunity, cost, and complexity (including time to market and feasibility). Cost and complexity are high-level estimates that will be refined in step three.

Following on with the construction company example, tracking tools and materials is prioritized as the most significant problem. The team comes up with 20 or more concepts, such as:

A) Electronic tags for every object received and onsite to keep a live inventory

B) Image recognition monitoring of everyone going in and out of the construction site

C) Search of all vehicles leaving the construction site

D) Delivery confirmation and assignment of personal responsibility for each item, along with monitoring

The concepts are tested, and (A) and (D) come out as the winners based on the selection criteria.

Step Three

Finally, it's time to implement the concept or concepts with the highest potential. Look for existing solutions that can deliver the concepts or, if necessary, a custom solution. Invite potential partners to present their proposed solutions.

The final key to success is ensuring that the initial scope and technical solution is manageable and that the users provide continuous feedback. The time from project start to initial launch (the MVP or minimal viable product) should be no longer than five months.

Continuing with the construction example, an RFID tagging solution is selected with tags for each item and RFID readers connected to smartphones. A prototype of the solution is up and running within one month from the project start, and several major issues are identified that lead to changes in the final scope and concept. Thanks to early feedback, the changes have no impact on the overall timeline. The solution is successfully launched with early results showing a reduction in lost inventory.

These are the three simple steps to IoT success. Understand the problem, test possible solutions and, once a winning concept has been identified, implement and launch a first version as quickly as possible.

About the author

Magnus Jern is Chief Innovation Officer at DMI, the first integrated end-to-end mobility company in the world with clients such as Anheuser Busch-Inbev, Cemex, GSK, Hershey and Ikea. He supports Fortune 1000 companies across the US, Europe and Asia with their digital transformation, IoT and AI initiatives. He was previously the founder and CEO of Golden Gekko, acquired by DMI in 2013. Magnus has over 15 years of experience in digital strategies, online marketing, search, location-based services, app development and mobile marketing for global consumer brands, retailers and carriers across the world.