You are getting ready for a meeting with your CEO to discuss your business’ possible deployment of an IoT solution. Take some advice from journalists who write articles for newspapers: if you can’t describe the 5 W’s of your IoT solution – who, what, when where, why – to your CEO, you might be in for a rough meeting. Here are the five questions you should be prepared to answer.

#1 Why do you need the IoT solution?

The answer to this most basic question quickly gets to the heart of the matter. While it might be exciting to launch into a detailed description of IoT technology within the first 5 minutes of your meeting, don’t do it. Focus first on the needs of your business: answer the question: “Why does your business need an IoT solution?”

One of the big drivers behind IoT investments is to move into new revenue streams and to forge stronger bonds with customers by selling services instead of solutions. Businesses could also adopt IoT solutions to improve some aspect of their operations. Common examples of these operational improvements include reduced operating costs, reduced maintenance expenses, increased employee safety, reduction in fuel costs, minimization of downtime, reduction in trouble ticketing, and deployment of new services-led businesses. Explain and quantify to your CEO the impact that a new technology can have on your business.

#2 What is the IoT solution?

Now is the time to describe the IoT solution. You should concisely describe the IoT solution by focusing on the thing/device being connected, the data being collected, and the touch-points between existing business/operations systems and new IoT data. Having a simple drawing of the technology aspects of IoT might help illustrate the hardware, connectivity, platforms, applications, and services involved. In addition, it is helpful to have a scheme that “follows the IoT data.” If you can describe how the data flows from device to application and the impact of the data on business operations, you will have a made a good case for adoption of an IoT solution.

#3 When should the IoT solution be deployed?

At this point, it is good to describe some of the risks or constraints that your business might face in deploying an IoT solution. For example:

• Are all the IoT technologies commercially available at reasonable prices?
• Are there internal business projects that might have higher priority?
• Are there relevant security, compliance, or privacy issues for your business that might impinge on the deployment of an IoT solution today?
• Will the timeline for standing-up an IoT proof-of-concept (PoC) and pilot project be unreasonably long for the business?
• Will the costs of creating a viable PoC and pilot project be too high?

It’s always good to think through some of the risk factors involved and have reasonable, honest answers to allay concerns.

#4 Where should the IoT solution be deployed?

Most IoT deployments start with a proof-of-concept and then move to a location-based pilot deployment. You should tentatively pick a pilot location for the IoT deployment. The location should:
• have local resources – whether internal staff or external partners — that can help with deployment
• be a typical operations environment for your business so insights derived from the pilot deployment are useful for your full-scale deployment
• should have motivated staff and partners so you optimize chances of a successful IoT solution deployment.

#5 Who should be involved in the IoT solution deployment?

You’ve answered all the other questions. Now is the time to discuss staffing. IoT solution deployment requires various technology, business, and change management skills. You will need to decide which internal and partner resources are best suited for the job. You will need people adept in
• IoT technology, including hardware, connectivity, platforms, applications, integration, and services
• the business processes that will be transformed by IoT as these people can assist in up-front troubleshooting and will save incalculable time during deployment
• change management and the “people issues” associated with making changes in business processes

Preparing answers to these 5 questions will create a strong case for deployment of your business’ IoT solution. Do not be surprised if you need to re-think some of your assumptions along the way. IoT is a transformational technology and while this may be your first IoT deployment it will not be your last.