How to Id if I am a being an IdIoT about IoT?

posted by Brian J. Curran

I know that is a mouthful but I felt compelled to put something out there for all my customer experience and human design friends about this subject. Just when we thought the communication assault of making sure we used the words social, mobile, big data, digital, disruption etc. in every conversation was going mainstream (which means we could stop saying it) along comes an acronym such as IoT that now requires us to bring this up at every cocktail party and spew from every presentation that we deliver. What’s a rational person to do?

I know! Keep it simple. Keep it approachable. Keep it accessible.

If you are one of my techie, super smart, brainiac friends who want to learn more about appropriate use of REST APIs or the role Raspberry Pi’s $5 computer will play in the proliferation of intelligent devices, stop reading. I love you all but I am not talking to you at the moment. I am talking to the rest of you, who have a business to run, customer needs to fulfill and a P&L that you are accountable to meet. We need to know how this is going to help us make all the constituents in our balanced scorecard happy and help us keep one step ahead of the expectations we are going to see from those same constituents.

So let’s keep this simple as I said. I think there are 4 components of a really good IoT strategy. The technology is already there to support these 4 components and will get better over time which will allow you to ramp up strategy as long as you get the fundamentals down in the beginning.

It’s really fascinating that we will be able to make a lot of objects “talk” that today are silent. These objects perform tasks everyday and go about their work unnoticed until something goes wrong. I think about things like my blender, vacuum cleaner, gas grill etc which some people would call dumb appliances. Please allow me to use these as examples as I know many of you sell much more sophisticated things.

All of us either use these sorts of things on a regular day basis and a lot of us sell these things or services that require the use of these things. Now imagine being the Dr. Dolittle of things. What would you want to know if you could speak their language? What questions would you ask? What would you do with the answers? How would you interact with this thing in the future? If only my blender could talk to me. What a conversation that would be and wouldn’t you like to know what it said. Scandalous!

Well first and foremost, if these things are going to talk, we will need a place to COLLECT all that information that is coming from these things in an orderly fashion as I imagine that it will be a lot of data. Look around your home or office and imagine if everything that you could see could talk. You also need to be clear about what you want to know so that you collect the pertinent information and design the COLLECTION process in such a way that it doesn’t overburden the thing and your storage.

So now you have all this information. Great! But being data rich and insight poor is not going to help you in any way towards achieving your goals. So now we have to put in a process that will allow us to ANALYZE all of this data to determine what is really happening. Think of it like a diagnostic process that allows us to read the tea leaves and really understand the correlation between disparate parameters that may forecast opportunities or issues in the present and future.

Ok. You found out something really interesting in your ANALYSIS. So now what are you going to do? You have to have a process in place that allows you to make DECISIONS based on parameters that you have either set ahead of time or in real time as you get new insights. These DECISIONS may only take the ANALYSIS about the thing or may be combined with other data points that you have about the customer, their location, the weather and a bevy of other data points outside your IoT data.  These DECISIONS are your action plan that comes from having a deeper understanding of things and the people associated with the things.

Last but not least, you are going to have to ENGAGE either directly back with the thing because you want to change something and affect something or with the person who works, owns, uses the thing either in a reactive or preeminent way based on the mission criticality of the insight. If my blender is working too hard and overheating because my blades have been dulled over time by making too many margaritas, I would like you to either ship me new blades, recommend a local shop that can sharpen them or invite me to buy the newest model that does a better job of pulverizing ice. What I don’t want to do is have the machine die as the party is getting started. I may not think too finely about your brand if that happens and neither will my guests. This will require us to change the magnitude of our customer’s preferences for engagement driven by this new knowledge.

COLLECTING, ANALYZING, DECIDING and ENGAGING are the basic components of the strategy that you will need to build as you start to embrace the use of IoT. I know that this is a very simple statement and that the execution of that strategy is the complex part but it will at least get you started on asking the right questions. Great strategies are built by having the right questions not necessarily the right answers in the beginning. It is about having enough to kick off your brand’s new Minimal Viable Experience (MVE) utilizing the basics of an IoT strategy and learning along the way. The biggest mistake that you could make is fully enabling all of your things and then never getting any value from that data.

I will try to put more information here in the future at a detailed level for those of you interested in deeper understanding of these 4 components.

All feedback appreciated!

Originally posted on LinkedIn