System Integrators & IoT: Choose One Based on Business & Industry Expertise

Introduction

The massive potential and complexity of IoT is well known to industry observers and participants. When a technology wave of this scale takes shape, it is often tempting to focus on the many technology questions that come to the fore. Technology choices around connectivity, device management, network and bandwidth management, continuity, security, data management, analytics of all types, and integration with business systems are all real questions that need to be considered carefully. But as important as all those technology considerations are, it is paramount to pause and realize that understanding the business requirements and associated ROI for any particular IoT project or initiative is the most critical first step. In fact, the inherent complexity of IoT means that doing the business requirements first is actually more important than ever – because the risks and costs of a mistake are significantly higher than in previous IT environments and eras.

Business Process is Fundamental

The pervasive nature of IoT – connecting many devices, sensors embedded around facilities, transportation vehicle and location tracking, weather data, and the many other novel data streams collected – drive far larger impacts on business processes and models than traditional IT. Once companies have the ability to track certain kinds of data for the first time, it has the potential to upend historical value chains and processes quickly. This is particularly true as real-time data streams come into play.

This reality means that business process analysis must once again come to the forefront. And this in turn means that as companies think about what kinds of partners they need to drive IoT, they need to re-evaluate when and how they choose their systems integration partners.

System Integrators & IoT Business Requirements

The potential impacts of IoT on business processes mean that collaboration and teamwork across business units within an enterprise and with outside integrators is critical. System integrators historically have focused on definition of business requirements inside the units and organizations of their large customers. This gives them a deep understanding of how to fully flesh out the business requirements for complex IoT applications and projects with large teams with many functional specialties.

System Integrators (SI) embarking on IoT projects also need to have the knowledge of the particular industry of their customers in order to re-define business processes and take advantage of all the new IoT-based data streams. The SIs who specialize in an industry are in the best position to do a fresh assessment of the business potential for IoT. This is particularly true if they have worked with other clients in the industry and so can benefit from the learning curve of multiple projects.

Some companies may find that System Integrators who are best in business requirements for their industry are not necessarily the ones who have all the particular technical expertise on the newer Big Data and IoT technologies such as Hadoop, Spark, and others. This means that companies must work closely with their SI partners to supplement their expertise when particular niche requirements come into play on a particular project. It is better to start with the baseline of business requirements knowledge and then supplement that with technical expertise than vice-versa.

Expanding beyond IT: Operational Managers and Analysts

Another important reason to choose an SI who has industry expertise is IoT projects typically involve a wider group of staff than traditional IT projects. System Integrators are used to dealing with operations executives and analysts because these business-focused professionals are often the ones who hire them. This group will bring in new perspectives and requirements that are often not on the radar of internal IT.

Organizational Impacts: New Teamwork

The demands of IoT are not just pushing technology. Those demands are also testing organizational boundaries and previous collaboration models. Traditional internal project teams centered on IT and vendor product choices are not workable in the IoT era. Business and operational analysts, and nimble System Integrators all need to be at the core of the mix. Business requirements demand it, and the potential of IoT makes it worthwhile. The combined business and technology complexity requires all the resources, experience, and skills that can be brought to the table.

Conclusion

IoT has the potential to be a true win/win proposition for System Integrators and enterprises they serve working on large scale IoT initiatives. The crucial first step is to focus squarely on the major impact of IoT on business processes and requirements. The second critical success factor is to expand the team and collaboration model aggressively to more internal operations and analyst staff at all levels. System Integrators with the industry expertise and ability to drive organizational learning and growth will be in a good position to add significant value – and their enterprise customers will maximize the benefits of IoT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>