Assessment Tool Prepares Companies for the Complexities of IoT Implementation

IoT survey highlights important factors to consider prior to IoT project development.

Over the last five years, the widespread connectivity and convenience brought about by the World Wide Web has reached a new zenith in the form of the Internet of Things (IoT), the ever-increasing network of everyday objects connected to the internet. Once only the domain of computers, the internet’s reach has extended to connect refrigerators, cars, televisions and many other devices to the global network.

As a result, a new realm of engineering and commercial possibilities has opened up for individuals, small businesses and multinational conglomerates alike—and resourceful teams from each corner of the Earth have begun to implement IoT into their business models and industrial solutions.

According to ADTMag, “worldwide spending on software and hardware around the Internet of Things (IoT) is projected to grow rapidly, from $726 billion in 2019 to $1.1 trillion in 2023.” This data, which originates from an International Data Corporation (IDC) report, equates to a 12.6 percent compound annual growth rate for IoT tech across the board.

That said, IoT is still a fresh—and sometimes daunting—concept to successfully integrate into a company’s strategic plan. A 2017 study from Cisco found that only a minority of IoT projects survive their early development stages. The figures are staggering—60 percent of IoT initiatives become trapped in the proof-of-concept stage, and of the 40 percent of IoT projects that manage to break free from conceptual purgatory, only 26 percent are deemed successful.

This is why Avnet stepped up to the plate, offering a free IoT assessment tool that is designed to help businesses determine if they are equipped and ready to add IoT to their products and processes. The assessment tool consists of a 20-minute survey intended to help business managers and organizational leaders objectively evaluate how prepared they are to deploy IoT, and to identify any critical gaps. The tool also assesses a company’s readiness across the important areas of an IoT business plan, such as the value proposition and change management plans.

The assessment tool is split into seven sections, each consisting of approximately ten questions. These sections encompass every aspect of IoT development and implementation:

  • IoT project strategy
  • Value proposition and business case
  • Technology stack
  • Workforce and partner needs
  • Cultural and change management readiness
  • Determining an organization’s digital maturity
  • Best practices and insights
Screenshot of the first step of the IoT assessment tool. (Image courtesy of Avnet.)

Screenshot of the first step of the IoT assessment tool. (Image courtesy of Avnet.)

As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power,” and this assessment includes useful information and essential questions that a company must be ready to answer prior to the start of any IoT project. For example, the assessment covers the major hurdles identified in Cisco’s IoT study—namely, time to completion, limited internal expertise, quality of data, integration across teams and budget overruns.

Furthermore, the Human Resources and leadership aspects of an IoT initiative are examined in detail over the course of the assessment. This is important given that even the best-laid plans and most cutting-edge technology are, by themselves, insufficient to bring a project to fruition if the right talent and leadership are missing.

Having a rock-solid plan prior to initiating an IoT project will also go a long way toward getting the C-suite on board and providing a worthwhile return on investment (ROI). As Lou Lutostanski, VP of IoT at Avnet, stated on TechTarget’s IoT Agenda blog, “Big initiatives take big support. Frequently, we see businesses get stuck when business managers love the idea, but can’t get the C-suite to sign on the dotted line and put it into production.”

“To avoid spinning your wheels, it’s crucial to ensure that all the appropriate C-suite stakeholders, up to and including the CEO, understand what your IoT deployment will give to the business,” Lutostanski added.

The clarity of vision afforded by Avnet’s assessment tool provides a pathway to a healthy ROI strategy that avoids ambiguity and loose ends—bolstering C-suite confidence and helping to ensure that dollars invested in IoT endeavors are well spent. 

By completing Avnet’s assessment tool, companies and business managers are also able to avoid another major setback in IoT development cycles: frustration and confusion generated by a lack of foresight and appropriate structuring.

IoTaudit as part of the IoT Frustration Survey. (Image courtesy of Steve Grady.)

IoTaudit as part of the IoT Frustration Survey. (Image courtesy of Steve Grady.)

An IoT “Frustration Survey” conducted by Steve Grady, Fractional CMO at Authentic Brand, flags five main frustration-generating categories related to the IoT field as identified by engineers and companies. The highest concentration of respondents—40 percent—identified hype and confusion as their largest source of frustration: “companies are confused by the bombardment of IoT messages, articles and ads. They are not sure what is true and how to proceed.”

Other sources of stress and frustration included implementation difficulties and ease of use issues (23 percent), security of data and transactions (16 percent), and a lack of IoT standards (14 percent). The last category is a reoccurring theme heard among companies and engineers, and is one area that Avnet focuses on in the assessment tool. Understandably, a lack of transparency and clear guidelines at the onset of an IoT project can create ripples and confusion during the later stages of development and implementation.

All in all, my experience with Avnet’s IoT assessment tool was a smooth and informative one. There were many moments during my interaction with the survey where I learned about aspects and factors pertaining to IoT that I had never previously considered.

Take, for example, the first section of the assessment tool, “Your IoT Project Strategy.” This section covers the various groups of subject-matter experts required to successfully develop an IoT initiative. Not only does this part of the assessment illustrate the lengthy introspection and research required before a company spends a single cent on an IoT product or service, but it also highlights the sheer amount of talent necessary to get an IoT project off the ground. This includes supply chain directors, corporate strategy executives, training managers and many others.

In addition, the tool saves your answers as you progress through the survey, enabling users to complete part of the assessment and return later to finish other parts. At the conclusion of the assessment, Avnet sends participants a free resource toolkit based on the individual results of each user.

Screenshot of Section 7 of the IoT Assessment Tool: Best Practices & Insights. (Image courtesy of Avnet.)

Screenshot of Section 7 of the IoT Assessment Tool: Best Practices & Insights. (Image courtesy of Avnet.)

Based on the answers I provided during my trial run of the tool (centered on a fictitious company utilized during my test of the assessment), the results indicated that my hypothetical IoT project was at risk of getting stuck early in development. Thus, my resource toolkit is focused on “un-sticking” my IoT project. My toolkit features guides about defining data, breaking down silos, quantifying the value proposition and defining the use case.

The resources and insights available to individuals and companies through Avnet’s IoT Assessment Tool are well worth the 20- to 30-minutes required to complete the survey. To learn more about what IoT can do for you, visit the Avnet website or check out the IoT Assessment Tool.

Avnet has sponsored this article.  All opinions are mine.  –Vincent Charbonneau