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Mapping IoT success with the 4D's

The internet of things is driving the future of business. According to the 2016 Vodafone IoT Barometer, 76% of companies surveyed believe that taking advantage of IoT technologies will be critical for the future success of their organization. Yet, despite this enthusiasm, some businesses still haven’t implemented the technology.

For those that have adopted IoT, the benefits are real — from increased revenue or creation of new revenue streams to increased efficiency by making better use of assets and resources.

With it proving to have measurable ROI, what is holding back some companies from implementing IoT? For many, the idea of executing a new technology project can be overwhelming, but starting an IoT journey does not need to be a burden.

When considering where to begin, it’s best to identify the most critical business assets. Consider what value it could add to the business if you start tracking, monitoring and optimizing these assets for better performance and utilization.

Once a focus has been identified, start small with one project and follow the 4D’s: discover, design, develop and deploy. Following a step-by-step approach will help address and remove traditional barriers to adoption that have been common with technology investments. Then, as initial projects prove their value, the organization has a repeatable approach to follow when deploying more IoT technology.

Ready to get started? Then let’s take a closer look at the 4D’s.

1. Discover

As a first step, companies need to examine the current way of doing things and outline issues and opportunities that exist. Before a strategy can be mapped, business leaders need to challenge existing ways of doing things, ask the difficult questions and think differently. This means bringing the right people together in the right place at the right time, and letting them be creative. Everything should be on the table for discussion, from requirement and gap analysis to roadmap development and strategy development. From there, leaders can begin devising IoT concepts to overcome specific challenges and how to bring promising ideas to life through proof-of-concept development and business impact assessments.

2. Design

After outlining the challenges and deciding where to focus, the next step is the design phase. Designing for IoT involves more complexity than a traditional IT project, since IoT includes a wireless network that could have intermittent connectivity, numerous devices to manage and applications that can be dispersed across a large geographic footprint. Considering various scenarios allows businesses to design for peak performance and avoid challenges that could arise after deployment. For example, when designing an IoT technology for a train, consider that the train will be passing through different regions with varying connectivity strength. Security, roaming and device management are other aspects to focus on when designing to maximize the value and efficiency of the IoT project.

3. Develop

After completing the design, the next step is development. The biggest difference between developing for IoT versus a traditional IT project is the need to test in a live environment. Won’t testing on a live network clog the existing IT network and infrastructure? Not if you use a test lab environment. The test lab allows businesses to check a range of scenarios and use a dedicated mobile network infrastructure to manipulate the environment to represent specific use cases. This environment provides access to robust, rigorous and repeatable testing, enabling for fine-tuning of the IoT technology.

4. Deploy

Lastly, it’s time for deployment. This includes field testing and developing a rollout plan to prepare for the day-to-day management of the IoT technology. As part of deployment, businesses need to plan for different scenarios. For example, a company that is rolling out residential smart meters needs to consider the various building layouts that could come into play requiring installation of a meter outside a building or in a basement that has limited mobile signal. These complexities can be accounted for in the rollout plan to avoid confusion and complexity when the technology goes live.

The business impact of IoT can be quick and meaningful. By starting with small, focused projects and using the 4 D’s as a roadmap, a proof-of-concept IoT product can be in place in a matter of weeks with full-scale deployment following. With the right guide, IoT can help drive greater efficiencies, quicker time to market, improved customer experience and even the creation of entirely new business models before you know it.

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