IoT Experience

Building Your Own IoT Experience

Roaming the convention floor at Mobile World Congress, I was hard-pressed to find any booth, big or small that didn’t have the term “IoT” conspicuously printed somewhere on the exhibit booth walls. I’ll admit, I got a bit nervous about the catapult effect that the technology was experiencing. On the other hand, I was also excited about the realness of the concepts and the proximity of the capabilities. IoT is no longer just an innovation lab experiment. So, if you’ve been watching from the sidelines, the time has come to get in the game.

As consumers, we’re still dipping our toes in the water, using smart home thermostats and trying various wearable devices with varying levels of adoption and success. Seems that the jury is still out on the applicability and relevance of most products in playing a meaningful role in our lives. But while we wait out the verdict on consumer experiences, we can, as businesses, dive further into the IoT concepts–in fact, we have an obligation to create IoT visions, roadmaps and concepts as technology leaders within our companies. So while standards, platforms, and networks are being sorted out, we can start gathering the learnings and constructing our visions and roadmaps. The good news is that while the interoperability battles around sensors, infrastructure and hardware are still to be won, there are concrete things that enterprises can do to get started.

Explore possible “smart” opportunities within your company.

Take a day or two away from your desk and spend some time on the front lines of your business. Check out customer experiences and follow the entire journey, noting interactions that create positive impressions as well as instances when service tends to break down. However, don’t assume the IoT opportunities are all consumer-facing. Some of the more compelling use cases might very well be for the employee. Shadow someone in your company. Go behind the scenes. What are the logistics that keep your company running day-to-day? How do you further enable the employee to do their job? What type of analytics would allow people or machines to deliver additional business value?

Create your hypothesis and predict potential value.

Think about how opportunities can be met with IoT technologies. Keep it light and don’t feel the need to over-solve, but consider three key layers within your concepts:

  • The Experience
  • Applications & Capabilities required to bring the experience to life
  • Infrastructure to keep it all together

Apply a product mindset, consider the potential use cases, and tie the use cases to business value. Will it enhance the experience or fulfill an unmet need? What are the business rules, services and analytics required to make the things smart? What sensors will you use? Networks? How will you prove or disprove your hypothesis? Dare to question and be curious! But, realize that your findings may be completely different than your original hypothesis, and that’s not a bad thing.

Run small, manageable pilots focused on learning.

Don’t over-complicate. Strive for learning, not perfection. Rely on partners to provide technology solutions–everyone generally has the same needs, curiosities, and we all want to find meaningful opportunities for the technology, especially with the potential of scale. Create the beginnings of your own ecosystem. As the standards start to fall into place, you’ll want your partners close at hand to deploy solutions quickly. Gather learnings about operational challenges, and think through your fall-back plans and workaround procedures in case the technology fails or experiences temporary setbacks. Surface the adoption challenges and think about how you’ll garner more widespread participation within your company.

At MWC 2016, I presented a simple use case for a smart, connected airport, which showcased a passenger’s seamless (and highly tracked) journey from the arrivals process to checking in to their hotel room. Sensory experiences in airports are not just about delivering the $.50 coupon for Cinnabon because you happen to be in the same terminal. This concept ultimately illustrates how sensor-driven flight, luggage and passenger tracking, along with data integration between airports, airlines, ground transportation and hospitality partners could create a frictionless experience for the passenger as well as drive value for ecosystem partners. Next step for me–time to pilot the concept!

So, if you haven’t at least dabbled in IoT concepts, get hands-on with your own IoT pilot. Start with the brainstorming, get inspired by your field observations, hypothesize, then put those pilots on your roadmap, and start learning now.

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