The internet of things (IoT) has been around for a while, but the technology around it is constantly evolving — presenting new opportunities for companies across all industries, whether IT users or IT providers. Many companies are still exploring the world of IoT and learning about IoT capabilities. But what are the key things to consider for implementing IoT in your company? Pablo Wangermann, DXC Technology’s IoT global offering leader, talks to THRIVE about best practices, KPIs and challenges on the IoT journey.
Q: What are some of the best IoT practices you have seen companies implement?
A: IoT is constantly evolving. There are new challenges, new technologies, new success stories, new failures to share and learn from. One challenge for companies is to keep focused on the process and the business metrics when looking to leverage IoT, especially in companies where IT might still be very siloed. This is important as you move to large-scale implementation of projects and a variety of technologies become involved.
When thinking about processes, don’t get lost in the glamour and excitement of the technology, whether it’s new sensors, IoT platforms or great analytics. The key is to make an actual change and get added value — whether that change is offering a new service or planning the workflow for the manufacturing floor. Have a clear idea of what will change. You can have all the great technology, but without the changes there won’t be added value.
And the hardest part is maintaining agility. With technology changing so much, when a company starts to move into large-scale IoT implementation you don’t want to lose agility. You can start down the road and gain great knowledge and insights, which is the great thing about IoT. But if you lose agility, you are not going to see results for a long time.
Q: You are talking about staying agile, gaining added value. What are some of the most effective KPIs regarding IoT implementation?
A: As the saying goes “you get what you measure.” At the same time, that can sometimes lead to unintended consequences, so you have to be careful how you select your KPIs and ensure they are focused on the end goal, the business metrics, the financials. It’s essential for the team to understand the end goal clearly and inspire the team to work towards it, all the while measuring how well this goal is understood and how effectively the organization is working towards it.
On the customer side, it’s important to consider both external and internal customers. Many IoT projects focus on things like manufacturing and supply chain. One of the pitfalls you can fall into is to have the IoT-based system become an additional system with additional complexity. When this occurs, you don’t get the theoretical benefit because you haven’t considered the person on the shop floor, or the supply chain manager. Consciously tracking metrics about your internal customers’ experiences is as important as tracking the experiences of your external customers.
Also, think about program management. In the digital world, you need to follow a very different program management set of metrics. Running things in the traditional waterfall program management way — as is happening in many IT departments — isn’t going to work anymore. You have to manage your digital portfolio and IoT portfolio more consciously. The progress on one project might be based on what you are learning now: You want a “fail fast” approach, and that will show you how to allocate your resources.
When thinking about processes, don’t get lost in the glamour and excitement of the technology, whether it’s new sensors, IoT platforms or great analytics. The key is to make an actual change and get added value.
Q: We hear a lot about IoT technology and solutions, but probably the process changes these solutions demand to be effective within organisations are as important. What are some of the challenges companies are dealing with regarding IoT-initiated process change?
A: Many of the processes have evolved and are being governed by the state of technology and existing systems, and one of the exciting things for many of us about IoT is that we are creating new sets of data and getting visibility into the shop floor or the operations of the machinery that we never had before. It’s easy to say, “Let’s have a discussion on the art of the possible”, but that is a complex thing to do, to revisit your processes, not as they have evolved and run over the last 10 to 20 years, but to actually really think out of the box. How could you do things completely differently? It varies a lot from industry to industry, but I think setting aggressive goals, yet thinking about agile steps and having that right dialogue where you get people with the deep experience to think out of the box — that’s part of the art of getting your initial proofs of value (PoVs) right.
Another question I think companies are experimenting with, but which probably needs a lot more thought is: Does IoT fundamentally drive a real restructuring of the IT department and its interaction with the business? Why, in many cases, has the IoT journey started intentionally outside of IT? This shows there is something at the core of the way the organization has evolved that is not working well. As you embark on the journey, it’s essential to think about the current organizational structure and how the whole organization is functioning.
Dr. Pablo Wangermann is IoT global compound offering leader at DXC Technology. He is leading the company’s IoT activities, coordinating and driving DXC’s IoT portfolio across industries, offerings and geographies. Wangermann is a trusted advisor to the C-suite and a results-driven transformation executive with extensive experience across the aviation, aerospace and industrial sector, driving digital transformation for clients.