The Internet of Things and what to expect

By Douwe Horst

More than ever, technological developments are bringing with them a variety of possibilities. Because more is possible, organizations also need to know more about it to determine what to do or not to do. In most cases, developments can work for you, but thorough preparation before starting projects is recommended to avoid disappointment. So what should you look for when starting a project with an Internet of Things (IoT) component?

An organization is caught off guard when decisions must be made under apparent time pressure to "do something" with available technologies. Think blockchain, machine learning, 3d printing, drones, etc. IoT is not new, but the applications from organizations are often still in their infancy. In the case of IoT, the question is, "You want a 'smart' organization too, right?" You hear that amazing things are possible. The application goes beyond sensors, the price is more attractive than before and it can all be done wirelessly. So why not just try it out in a project?

Unfortunately, practice is more recalcitrant, according to a recently published Cisco survey of IoT projects. 1845 ICT decision makers were surveyed about their experiences with IoT. They indicated that nearly 75 percent of projects do not lead to the desired results. This starts as early as the Proof of Concept, where expectations are not in line with the result. Top management generally does not know what the technology entails and what the possibilities are, strategy is not connected to operations, business and ICT do not work together and expertise is insufficient.

Launching IoT projects should be in line with the organization's vision and strategy. But what are the considerations and tools to make a good decision about this? In my opinion, preparation is essential in this regard. Answering important questions in the preparation gives a grip on the result. Examples of such questions, observed from practice, are:

- What exactly is IoT?

- What business objective is IoT actually being used for?

- What is the added value of the project for the organization?

- How is IoT related to other developments inside and outside the organization?

- Is there sufficient knowledge of and connection between strategic, tactical and operational layers within the organization regarding IoT?

- What should be the role of management?

- What should the collaboration between business and ICT look like?

- For what purposes might malicious parties be able to misuse an IoT application?

- How is privacy regulated? Read more about this in VKA consultant Bas de Groot's blog on how to deal with the approaching European (e-)privacy regulation.

- How stable are networks to choose?

- How is the integration with IoT cloud platforms?

Involve the right stakeholders in these questions, from strategy to operations. And above all, let them be "live" questions, so that they are asked throughout the project. This creates a better grip on whether it is in line with expectations. For example, start with workshops weighing opportunities and risks. Then prioritize the most important considerations. This