At the 2017 IoT World Forum, Cisco unveiled research that said more than 60% of IoT projects fail in the Infancy/Proof of Concept (POC) stages, and only 26% actually get completed (and we shouldn't assume all of those 26% lead to tangible, improved outcomes - the true reason for IoT.) With Gartner's estimate of 8.4 billion "things" up and running by the end of 2017, that means there are a whole lot more failed IoT projects out there.
From a live poll taken at the forum, the following four challenges were listed as the top reasons for this unfortunate statistic:
A 26% success rate for IoT projects is obviously not good. Can we as an industry do better or is this just the nature of fast-moving technology?
First, let's be clear, IoT is now a massive category that covers a broad range of applications and markets. It's filled with terminology foreign to the majority of people on the planet except for those immersed in it daily: Big Data, LTE, LoRa, device authentication, managed services, cellular provisioning and over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates just to name a few.
Is there excessive hype around IoT's short term impact? Maybe, but what an incredible time to be part of a tectonic shift in business where we can use technology in so many creative ways to improve lives and business operations.
With the potential for so much good, the IoT category will find ways to succeed, thrive and most importantly, provide value. There's no doubt about that. The question is - can we improve the success rate for the projects that could and would succeed if they were only managed properly?
4 Keys to Success
It can be difficult to identify universal truths that apply to everyone in a market this big. After all, the IoT spans everything from medical devices to smart cities, from home automation to industrial automation to autonomous vehicles and more.
However, there are four key steps that may just apply to every IoT project, and will need to be navigated in order to improve the IoT success rate:
Choosing the Right Team
These steps can be managed in multiple ways - internal resources, a single external partner, multiple partners or even a mix of internal resources and partners. The decision on what is the best fit for you comes down to two things: expertise and experience.
Do the resources you are considering have the technical know-how to do what you need and do they have experience in delivering IoT solutions? If you are focused on healthcare for example, do you partners understand the IoT solution's market, who the users are and have they dealt with regulatory requirements like HIPAA or FDA compliance? Remember, IoT is about more than just developing cool technology.
If you're bringing to market a solution that requires a cellular connection, do your internal teams or your partners have experience working with wireless carriers?
If your products are meant for consumers, do your resources know how to deliver seamless and intuitive out of box experiences, consumer-friendly applications, online stores and customer support tools for your staff?
Aligning the Arrows
If you decide to bring in external resources, the other critical factor to keep in mind is alignment. Long term success is much more likely if you find a partner (or partners) where your goals are aligned.
For example, if your goal is to rapidly go to market and achieve recurring revenue while your partner's primary goals are to collect development fees, you aren't aligned. While you want to minimize development time and costs to decrease time to market and time to revenue, they want to get paid as much as possible during development regardless of your ability to get to market efficiently.
That is not alignment.
To avoid this situation, have an open conversation with your potential partners. Discuss how you align your motivations so that you are working together to achieve a common goal.
Ideally, you will want a partner that meets your needs with regards to expertise, experience and alignment. In Zipit's case, we help organizations with all four of the steps listed above.
In our experience, many IoT projects fail due to challenges that can be avoided or mitigated through proper planning and execution. So if you ask us, improving the success rate of IoT projects globally is not only possible, but a challenge worth taking on.