Implementing an IoT solution allows a company to reap many benefits. This includes considerable time and productivity gains, which translate into significant economic gains –savings and new revenues– but also into increased competitiveness thanks to diversification. By managing consumption, limiting waste, innovating rapidly and communicating in a more sober and efficient way, IoT solutions can also have positive environmental and social impacts.
As a decision-maker in the industrial sector, you have the opportunity to take this technological and strategic turn. The path has been paved by pioneers, who have had the honor to blaze the trail: technologies are now more stable, various players have organized themselves into ecosystems and turnkey solutions have been developed, are currently being used and are at your disposal.
These high stakes call for a strategic response. In connected companies, it is the decision-makers and C-level executives who have tackled this issue head-on and who are carrying it forward. They don’t consider IoT to be a topic reserved for technicians, but instead, as a structural investment for their company. They have measured the stakes of this transformation and are now reaping its benefits. You can no longer afford to delegate IoT issues to your innovation department, or to strategic and technological partners anymore. IoT is not just some expensive technology. It is a key operational technology that carries many opportunities and benefits, on many levels!
Leveraging the full power of IoT is only possible if stakeholders commit themselves directly and keep a close hand on this topic, which is, as we have said before, at the heart of their business. A clear methodology and simple but powerful management tools are a necessity in mastering the complexity, analyzing the costs and benefits ensuring long-lasting success.
To carry your IoT solution to a successful outcome, key stakeholders and the project team should closely take into consideration and clarify the following highly interdependent elements, as early as the solution design phase:
- The WHY, which identifies the target outcome of the solution in terms of financial savings and revenues, but also in terms of qualitative, human and environmental gains.
- The WHAT, which helps quantify the target cost of the solution: price of the devices and their installation, as well as the necessary software components and all the related costs of installation, operation, maintenance and environmental impact – costs that are often neglected.
- The HOW, which reflects upon the degree of scalability of the entire system, by adopting an incremental approach, to support increasingly complex solutions, to match the growing operational and commercial success.
IoT Solution Canvas®, a guide for driving IoT to success
As we believe that IoT is not reserved for experts and specialists but an opportunity for all, Stackeo’s team has developed the IoT Solution Canvas® to implement this top-down approach. With IoT Solution Canvas® you are guided to answer the WHY, WHAT and HOW a solution should exist and be deployed. With IoT Solution Canvas®, stop improvising but stay on track all the way through.
IoT Solution Canvas® is a strategic management template used for:
1) developing new IoT solutions end-to-end
2) documenting existing ones
3) supervising an IoT deployment
Aligning Business, IT and OT
The IoT Solution Canvas® has been invented to promote a better understanding of the respective challenges of business, IT and OT teams and their alignment on common objectives. Such a shared vision appears to be the key for project success. Indeed, aclear plan and explicit assumptions pave the way for success of future operations. As soon as the first pilot is deployed, the initial hypotheses have to be challenged and the plan adjusted.
Furthermore, as the solutions are being developed, all the company’s departments are impacted: finance and marketing, but also sales and procurement. IoT Solution Canvas® continuously reminds the big picture to all stakeholders.
WHY: identify the target outcome
As a first step, you need to analyze WHY you are creating or deploying this new solution. An IoT solution exists, first and foremost, to address a well-identified issue: lack of visibility in equipment behavior or customer experience, need for continuous geolocation or remote control to optimize fleet management, etc.
Like for any data-driven solution – analytics, big data, artificial intelligence, IoT – it is important to ask ourselves the right questions: what problem do we want to solve? What can we learn from these new insights? How can this data improve business decisions and operations?
It is not enough to simply collect and process data; data must serve a relevant purpose, it must help solve a specific challenge. It is important to clarify this in the first place to set financial objectives and technical constraints for example.
Data freshness and context matter
Real-time data is special. It is like fruit. As soon as it is harvested, it can quickly spoil. We often meet companies that pride themselves on storing large amounts of real-time data in their “data lakes” without really having asked themselves why or how to analyze them. They store massive amounts of data in case it may be useful for machine learning or for reselling it in the future. The goal of IoT is to improve processes based on fresh and contextualized data, by transforming it and exploiting it to make better decisions quickly!
Moreover, the idea is to move from corrective measures to preventive ones, so time is of the essence! All data is not necessarily still relevant after one day or one week!
Quantify your goals
It is also important to clearly quantify the target goals and to identify the beneficiaries. To this end, the objectives can be:
to improve customer satisfaction by 10%,
to increase the efficiency of maintenance operations by 5%,
to sell 1000 new products as a service by the end of month.
Setting clear GOALS and quantifying the associated key performance indicators (KPIs) enable the team to measure the solution’s success and to align all efforts towards solving this problem.
Capturing all the business requirements and constraints (time, budget, location) is also critical. Success evaluation depends on initial target results in terms of savings and revenues, schedule, delivery date and payback period. That way, it is much easier to calculate the right budget envelope for the solution.
It is also healthy and useful to collect in a “backlog” other possible objectives, ideas for future uses, and other potential qualitative gains for this connected solution, and decide the desired degree of evolutivity of the solution. This may impact the technical choices the architect will have to make, for example when selecting an IoT network technology.
WHAT: a systematic way to adjust the cost to the benefits
Once the strategy is defined and the WHY has been clarified, fear of complexity and of lack of skills can easily bring companies to a halt.
Considering the important stakes at hand, companies may feel like it is in their interest to surround themselves with partners. This is indeed a good idea as the complexity is real and the technical choices are numerous. But, delegating the entire innovation process may not be the wisest decision. Rather, companies seriously engaged in a transformative process are training and learning step by step in order to keep control over their destiny.
To start simply, when the specific problem is clear to all, the next step is to define a first technical solution to address it. Answering the “WHAT” is helpful for this. The “WHAT” is a description of the ASSETS that are bridged to SERVICES. ASSETS are the physical elements, like vehicles, compressors, buildings, pipelines that will be instrumented and connected, and based on which real-time data will be collected and processed to provide services to the identified end-users.
Starting with the description and quantification of the physical ASSETS to be connected to the network and the digital SERVICES you want to offer, you can estimate more precisely the savings and new revenues you would like to make.
You can also project your goals in terms of the number of ASSETS and SERVICES you plan to deploy. This is what we call the "scaling plan".
Then, at this stage, defining the high-level architecture of the IoT STACK will help to calculate the project costs and the overall budget. Likewise, don't you need an architectural plan to build a new building or a new machine and estimate your budget?
With Stackeo IoT Canvas®, you can model the savings, costs and revenue structure automatically. With Stackeo IoT Solution Canvas® feature, your savings, revenues and cost projections are adjusted to your scaling plan.
HOW: articulate a multidisciplinary team and a clear planning
The multidisciplinary team is a key ingredient to carefully take care of when preparing an IoT development. The key points here are a clear responsibility matrix and tight collaboration between all stakeholders to keep continuous alignment and focus.
With Stackeo IoT Solution Canvas® feature, you can define team members with their responsibilities in the project and share the project with them. It is also possible to associate third parties and customers in a project.
The interactive planning helps to structure and detail the different phases of the project. It is linked with Stackeo Biz Assistant to automatically calculate and update the expenses associated with each phase. A clear and shared project planning ensures good rationalization and helps optimize the TTM, time to market, and the TTV, time to value.