Over two spring October days in Sydney, myself and Mike Ebinum - Sheda's Director - got to participate in and experience Australia’s largest Internet of Things conference, IoT Impact 2019. We learnt from and shared the stage with thought leaders of the Australian IoT landscape were we discussed and shared insights on where the industry is heading.
We hosted a session on “Kickstarting your IoT startup innovation journey” as part of the IoTAA (Internet of Things Australia Alliance) startup stream and we got to watch industry leaders showcasing the newest IoT trends around manufacturing, health, transport, agriculture, smart cities and A.I.
We noticed two main themes occurring from all the sessions we attended at IoT Impact 2019:
"...successful innovation with IoT is always a multiplayer game"
Developing an IoT solution not a single player game. The need for increased collaborations between stakeholders and vendors to ensure a successful outcome was a theme that emerged from a lot of the talks and workshops we attended. Ray Keefe from Successful Endeavours showcased an example of successful collaboration in the manufacturing sector by taking a partnerships approach to supply complete IoT solutions made in Australia. In the Agribusiness session Ben van Delden and his panel presented insights from KPMG‘s Agtech study tour through the Netherlands. Stronger collaboration using the triple helix model was outlined as key differentiator for Holland’s success in agriculture.
Australian companies' mindset often seems to be focussed on the success of individual companies instead of considering the whole ecosystem. This was identified as limiting factor for collaboration in Australia, successful innovation with IoT is always a multiplayer game. By placing yourself into a position where you can see the world out of the perspective of the different stakeholders, you will be able to find ways to generate a lot of value, not only for your company but for the whole ecosystem.
“IoT needs to move from the art of the possible to the art of the practical.”
There are lots of possible ways to use IoT but not all of them are viable. The industry seems to be growing up and moving from tech trials to real value adding solutions. John Gorden, president of commercial IoT at Lenovo, explained that only 20% of IoT proof of concepts convert into full implementation. He outlined: “IoT needs to move from the art of the possible to the art of the practical.” For something to be practical it needs to fulfil a purpose. Hence, we need to understand the purpose or problem first before a high impact IoT solution can be developed and applied. In other words, we need to move away from throwing ready-made tech solutions at problems and hope that will fix them to a deeper understanding of the problems and development of the appropriate IoT solutions.
The themes seem to be on the mind of lots of speakers. Our workshop session at IoT Impact also touched on these two challenges. To summarise, successful innovation using IoT, comes down to developing a deeper understanding of your customers/stakeholders (and their problems and aspirations) and identifying other players in the IoT ecosystem who you can partner with and create viable business models to help solve customer challenges.
In our session on kickstarting IoT innovation, we explored how to use human centred design to generate and test new IoT business models. For success to happen there has to be an intersection between the human desirability, business viability and technical feasibility. Only if all 3 aspects are fulfilled real impact can be generated.
How do we collaborate better?
In order to collaborate better, we need to move away from: what’s in it for me to what’s in it for us. Essentially, it requires companies and their employees to put themselves into the position of the other stakeholders in the IoT ecosystem they will be interacting with. This is where you find value for your potential partners, collaboration becomes easier because benefits for all partners will be on the table. Start by engaging in conversations with other people in the IoT ecosystem and try to see the world how they see it, ask questions to understand them better and share your view of the world.
How do I find and understand the challenges?
Directly or indirectly, every challenge you're using IoT to solve is related to people. This is where human centred design comes into play. Human centred design is based on an open mindset and the belief that all problems are solvable. In addition, the key to solving the problems lies in the hands of the people the problems are solved for. In other words, make sure you talk to your customers, clients or anyone else you like to help und put yourself into their shoes and try to see the world out of their eyes.
Where do I start?
A good way to get in touch with other players in the IoT ecosystem is through local IoT industry bodies. In Australia, the Internet of Things Alliance Australia, or IoTAA is a great place to start forming relationship with potential partners.
In terms of finding and understanding problems, I would like to share two very valuable resources that will give some structure around human-centred design and will allow you to engage with people in a more meaningful way.
The first one is IDEO’s design kit. IDEO are pioneers in design thinking and they offer a lot of ideas to empower your customers to open up and share their wants and needs.
The second resource is the IoT Business Model Builder from Bosch. It’s a framework that lets you systematically generate and test business models for different stakeholders in the IoT ecosystem.
These resources will help you to approach potential partners and stakeholders with a value proposition in hand and help you clarify the real problems worth solving using IoT.
These are part of our toolkit at Sheda and I'll be happy to share more with you on how to apply them in creating successful IoT solutions. Reach out by scheduling a chat via my calendar or come along to our next event.