IoT may sound like it’s all about technology, but human factors — culture, organization, and leadership — loom large in any IoT success story.
For starters, people-related outcomes are key drivers for undertaking IoT projects. Among those cited by global survey respondents were employee satisfaction (59 percent), enabling a mobile workforce (49 percent), and employee productivity (38 percent). These percentages were mostly consistent across industries.
The ultimate success of those initiatives transcended pure technology as well. In Cisco’s survey, this comes through in three of the four top factors behind those IoT initiatives considered most successful:
- Collaboration between IT and the business side was the number one factor, as cited by 54 percent of survey respondents.
- A technology-focused culture, stemming from top-down leadership and executive sponsorship was cited by 49 percent.
- IoT expertise, whether internal or through external partnerships, was favored by 48 percent.
In short, organizations with the greatest success at implementing IoT initiatives have a culture focused on technology at the highest levels, while relying on experts from both inside and outside the organization.
Guy Brassard, CIO of Southwire, a leading cabling manufacturer, spoke of bringing IT, business, and outside experts to the table, literally.
“Imagine us around a table,” he said. “I've got partners that are specialists, who have international reach, which we need. I've got IT folks that understand extremely well the legacy system, but understand what the talent gaps are. The third party is the business people, who know what they want out of the system. So, all three parties understand what each other can bring to the table.”
Smart companies also gain executive sponsorship of IoT initiatives in the earliest stages, to offer critical investments and support. Indeed, a full 71 percent of surveyed organizations believed that executive support is necessary to move IoT initiatives past project hurdles.
One way to capture and keep executive sponsorship is with clear metrics of success. Once goals are set, the leadership team knows what outcomes to expect. And the earlier data and benefits begin to flow in, the sooner their decisions will be affirmed. From there, continued support, investment, and resources are more likely to ensure that the project continues to scale.
Without buy-in from the leadership team, the whole company suffers. An executive from a midmarket New York firm complained of just such a problem at a Cisco focus group: “Our CEO and every executive there, they’re not really in tune with new technology in their industry because our industry has been doing the same thing the same way for so long.”