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5 myths about the Internet of Things that it’s time to forget

It’s widely accepted that the Internet of Things will be a potential source of major growth and is rapidly becoming business critical to an organization’s success. So what’s holding up progress? In part, it’s because the growing myths around IoT have tended to get ahead of reality.

The executives who are driving the most exciting changes in their industries are the ones who have been able to separate the buzz and the myths from practical, sound management.

So, what are some of the things we think we are certain about but are better off forgetting when it comes to IoT? Here are five myths around IoT and why you should forget them.

Forget “go big or go home.” Instead, take a measured approach.

This is the single biggest myth around IoT, and the one that has led to some painful early disappointments. The IoT is a long-term trend that promises to improve business over time, not a short-term fad that will transform everything overnight.

That’s precisely why getting the process right from the outset is critical. This is not the arena where you should “move fast and break things”. In their rush to be first, many early adopters invested far too much in hardware without knowing which business problem they were trying to solve, what integration hurdles they would have to face, or what business processes it would impact. With few exceptions, that hardware now sits on the shelf gathering dust.

IoT architecting.jpg
An employee passes banks of computer hardware connected by colored cabling inside the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. A smart city initiative, which also involves rolling out electric vehicles and bikes and making neighborhood blocks' energy output self-sufficient, widescale deployment of sensors and quick-response codes to 8,000 points around the city by the end of the year to provide location-based information to anyone with a smartphone, could save Barcelona 3 billion euros ($ conv) in the next decade. Photographer: David Ramos/Bloomberg

The most interesting successes are happening at Fortune 500 companies that are piloting careful proof-of-concept implementations. Leaders at those companies will tell you that the first thing to know about embracing IoT is to understand how it fits what the business needs. It’s important to know your industry, what competitors are doing, and then find a partner who will work with you to get it right. Executives who plan out the process, test it in their specific environment, and invest the time up front to get it right, have a dramatically higher success rate. It takes only a little bit longer to create a success than it does to rush into a failure.

Many companies think that implementing an IoT device is costly, but when done correctly IoT commands less than 10 per cent of IT budgets.

Forget “change everything.” Instead, tee up a quick, predictable win and build from there.

It’s tempting to get caught up in planning a long, comprehensive digital transformation initiative. But often, that’s a mistake. Successful companies are effective because they have systems and processes in place that are reliable and serve the business.

Instead, look for quick wins that build credibility and make an immediate difference to users. Perhaps the most simple, secure and proven way to begin a digital transformation initiative is to start with EMM (enterprise mobility management). The perception about the IoT is that it has to be about putting sensors and monitors everywhere, but in reality some of the easiest wins can happen on smartphones and laptops. The technology is battle-tested, the use cases are clear, and the business impact is generally felt organization-wide.

Forget silos. Instead, think about systems.

A major advantage of IoT is that all your systems can be connected and communicate with each other. But without a solid plan and proof-of-concept implementations, companies often end up with a hodgepodge of siloed solutions. They end up spending more time monitoring all the different systems instead of making progress.

Smarter planning results in smarter systems. Think ahead.

Forget “best available” hardware. Instead, think best imaginable.

Another downside to rushing into buying hardware without having thoroughly understood the business case is that you can easily end up with the wrong system. Users end up being limited by whatever the off-the-shelf hardware can do. Frustration leads to people deciding it’s easier to find another way to work than it is to use the IoT system, which often leads to complete abandonment of the project.

It’s far smarter to do small proof-of-concept implementations. As you gather feedback from the field, you can identify the limitations of the hardware quickly and then determine what to do.

In some cases, you may choose to move to entirely different hardware. But in others, small modifications may make a great deal of difference.

An IoT vendor with strong hardware company partnerships can often ask for, and get, customized, enhanced products with capabilities that can make the difference between a successful project and a failed one.

The lesson? Plan ahead and work with partners who are ready, willing and able to go the extra mile for you.

Forget point solutions. Instead, think end-to-end.

The reason why point solutions work poorly for IoT is right in the name: it’s the Internet of Things, – plural – not a single entity. When projects are uncoordinated, companies often end up with a set of unrelated and inept point solutions. Each of these might be considered the “best” for its individual task, but often they are not ideal for a complete, coordinated system.

Enterprises are finding it’s smarter to leverage IoT as a service to get solutions up and running quickly and connected to their business applications. These are usually offered as managed services with end-to-end capabilities and equipment to successfully develop, implement and deploy IoT into their existing business without requiring skilled resources or heavy investment into IoT devices.

For example, shipping, transportation and logistics organizations can use this service and pay for it just like they would a cell phone bill at the end of the month. With IoT as a service, companies can focus on their core business rather than spend time and resources on creating a new IoT network and worrying about implementation.

With the right internal team, proven vendors, and a smart, battle-tested planning process, you can move your IoT projects ahead with confidence.

It’s time to leave the myths in the past, and move ahead to the future.

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