Is it time to give machines a voice in your business? Maybe you already have, with unified communications (UC) established and well in place. But what’s the best way to implement the Internet of Things (IoT) so that it fits into your organization? 

Experts say the first step to getting the most out of such new technologies is to get your house in order. Here are three crucial steps to help you succeed.

Create an IoT strategy

Before you get knee-deep in sensors and data, determine your strategic goals for using IoT. It’s tempting to go for the quick result—especially when you’re investing significant time and money in the implementation. But as with any business effort, having a strategy is essential. Ask these questions:

How will IoT support our overall business goals? 
What are our long-term goals for the use of automation and IoT?
What challenges will our organization face when implementing IoT?
What will be the costs of expanding IoT’s use in the future? 
What will we do with the data to support the business?

Define the business case

Your IoT implementation won't get off the ground without buy-in from your organization and customers. So, it’s critical to identify how IoT will make your business more competitive, improve processes, provide customers with new experiences, reduce costs and generate new revenue streams.

Recently, McKinsey surveyed IoT executives at 300 companies to determine what factors influenced successful and profitable use of machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. The organizations that reaped significant economic benefits were nearly three times more likely to implement IoT with existing products and services. Conversely, less successful companies – those in the bottom quintile of economic returns – focused on developing new IoT products or services.

That raises the question: When you begin your IoT implementation, should you merely dip your toes in the water or go big? McKinsey’s research discovered that going big is better. In fact, successful businesses started M2M technology with up to 30 different use cases and implemented 80 percent more IoT than less successful companies. 

Why does this correlate to higher economic returns? McKinsey found that “more widespread usage ... forces a cultural shift. It stokes organizational energy behind changes and creates new mindfulness about the benefits of IoT.” 

In addition, the momentum of larger implementation “often exposes weakness in technology along with gaps in talent – both in terms of in-house IoT skill levels and the numbers of experts needed to implement IoT at scale.” The bottom line: Making a bigger IoT commitment forces the organization to embrace the new technology.

Building a solid business case requires buy-in from both inside the company and from customers. Marcel Azary, senior vice president at the manufacturing firm Shinano Kenshi, underlined that point. He emphasized that finding champions is essential. "You have to be almost like a consultant to get your point across, but the ones who see it and grasp it are the ones who will push it forward," he told TechTarget.

IT readiness

Finally, explore whether your IT department and infrastructure are able to handle implementing M2M technology. Before moving ahead, assess your in-house talent, systems and any interoperability issues. For example, a patchwork of legacy systems can definitely slow down IoT implementation. To prepare your IT organization for IoT:

Look for vendors who offer IoT components that will work with your existing network and even help you evolve your systems into a unified framework. 

Create a parallel network to experiment with IoT devices and test potential problems.

Take stock of your in-house technology skill set. Do you have the personnel to handle an IoT implementation and manage the stress on your stack? If not, start looking for new team members or outside expert help.

Determine what security measures need to be in place to protect data throughout the IoT chain. "Understand how devices collect information, how they connect [to your systems], how they're authenticated, how they can be managed, how they can be stopped or wiped in case of an incident, and how this information flowing from the device to the end destination can be secured," said Chris Dimitriadis, group director of information security at Intralot, a Greece-based lottery vendor and operator.

By 2020, Gartner says, more than 65 percent of enterprise companies will implement IoT and M2M technology. For your organization to be one of those adopters, be sure to conduct due diligence to realize the most economic benefit.

Not sure how to get started with IoT for your enterprise? Our white paper breaks down the steps you should take. >

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