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It’s hard to grow up in IoT

One of the most important governing factors in the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) is the maturity of the companies considering, buying and implementing IoT. Vendors can improve their go-to-market (GTM) tactics by varying their approach to potential customers with different degrees of maturity. Assessment of maturity helps in predicting and targeting growth opportunities in vertical and geographic market segments.

A mature process for a single IoT solution is easy to describe but challenging to carry out. A team including members with business knowledge, operations technology knowledge and IT knowledge works together through the process of problem selection, solution design, solution implementation, and ongoing solution operation and refinement. As most IoT implementations present opportunities for enhancement and further integration, the team continues to work together indefinitely.

For an organization to be mature in IoT, it must be able to sustain multiple projects, at different phases in different parts of the organization and at varying levels of scale. The projects must be compliant with company and regulatory policies, secure and, ideally, scalable and efficient, leveraging to the extent possible organizational resources and standard practices. The data generated by the IoT projects must be secure, but it must also be visible and available to others in the organization who could benefit.

Additionally, the mature IoT organization keeps the process of continual distributed innovation going, with employees throughout the organization actively looking for opportunities to improve operations using IoT, as well as other innovative technologies. While encouraging broad innovation, the organization manages, prioritizes, allocates resources for and socializes the projects.

The organization described above is an ideal, but comparing an organization with this standard helps us know at what level a business is operating in IoT. This ideal process applies not only to IoT but also to all projects leveraging new technologies.

For vendors, IoT maturity can help with identifying potential customers and approaching prospects. With mature customers coordinating multiple IoT projects, there is the opportunity to be included in the company’s portfolio of vetted preferred vendors or products. With a less mature customer, the best outcome is engagement in a single IoT project. These two different scenarios demand different messaging, sales tactics and, sometimes, offerings.

In a growing market — and IoT will be growing for a very long time — the trailing edge is always much larger than the leading edge. Even as the average level of maturity increases, most target customers will be on the less-mature end of the spectrum. Vendors and offerings that fit the needs of the target market, including simplicity, extensive support and membership in robust partnerships, will have an advantage. Offerings that help develop the customer, moving them up the maturity ladder, will also have an advantage.

IoT maturation isn’t about the technology of IoT; it’s about businesses developing their capability to leverage technologies and techniques that are increasingly applicable to an increasing number of business problems. The same maturation encompasses things like analytics and artificial intelligence, blockchain, edge computing, and mobile computing. Looking at customers and prospects in terms of maturity in leveraging technology helps in selling and delivering technology products that drive businesses forward.