It was quite some time ago when I first set out on this blog series. We have now finally arrived at the last step of what I called “the IoT journey”.
If you are interested in the previous steps, have a closer look at the following list:
- Step 1: Identify the relevance
- Step 2: Define a starting point
- Step 3: Identify your options
- Step 4: Create prototypes
- Step 5: Define your IoT strategy
The last step of this journey is called “Execute Strategy”. As mentioned in the previous blog, you will most likely repeat this journey several times to gather findings, improve your skills, and evolve your strategy. With this in mind, step 6 will actually do more than execute your current strategy version. It also describes a point in time, where you are going to plan the next iteration steps that will also improve your strategy going forward.
So there might not be much to say about this step. On the other hand, I think it is a good time to review some of the things mentioned in earlier steps, and to complement these with further ideas that can help you with your personal IoT journey and strategy. In addition to this, I would like to let you know about blogs that I plan to publish in the future.
Review of the big picture so far
So far, the picture of the “journey” was good enough to show transport the high level steps to be performed. As introduced in the last step, it now makes sense to connect this journey to a more project-oriented view. Of course, there are various approaches for naming these phases, and I strongly believe that all of them can be mapped with each other at a deeper level of detail. So instead of spending too much time on the high-level names, I want to make sure that these names are at least consistent with my other blogs and content we have created earlier in SAP EA Explorer.
In the previous blogs in this series, our focus was primarily on knowledge, discover and plan. For me, this is where the need for information, methods and guidance is the greatest.
Knowledge, learning and acceleration
In the context of IoT, learning often starts with answers to basic questions like “What is IoT?” or “How can IoT be of benefit for my business?” The more you go along your journey in the context of your company’s specific process of implementing IoT, the more questions like “how to discover starting points”, “how to identify IoT scenarios” or “how to turn them into business values” will come up. As such, knowledge gathering is an ongoing process. Depending on your needs, you might like to use specific accelerators that help you gathering the relevant knowledge or to prepare yourself to beg enabled for the different phases in your project(s). SAP EA Explorer is just one example of an accelerator. Others are methods like design thinking and business model innovation, or tools like the Value Lifecycle Manager (VLM). Another great new accelerator is the SAP Leonardo Jump-Start Program. My colleague Boris Zarske already started a blog about some of these accelerators.
Discover & Plan
In this phase of your journey, the focus is on identifying areas in your company where IoT-based scenarios could help improve your business. As mentioned in part 2 of this blog series, there are several patterns that can be searched for to discover IoT-relevant areas in an enterprise. The main driver to look for patterns is your case for change, which could be to improve your business processes, create new business processes or even develop new business models.
Once you have identified your starting points, it’s all about finding the right option (as mentioned in part 3) for implementation, which includes the adoption of software, the adaptation of existing software or the development of custom software.
There is more in the details
Obviously, the previous blogs were just an introduction to a variety of areas of interest. We have recently started a small customer group together with the German SAP User Group (DSAG). In this group, our plan is to work across the several areas of interest we initially discovered, starting with the knowledge, discover and plan phases. The graphic below shows these areas of interest.
While we are going to analyze questions, challenges and missing information, we will also work on answers and material that closes identified gaps. During this process, our plan it to add this information to SAP EA Explorer and produce related blogs. To give you a better idea of these areas of interest, let me quickly introduce them together with some example questions.
Business Objectives & Concerns
- How to create a business-relevant IoT case?
- What are typical business objectives that lead into IoT scenarios and projects?
IoT Capabilities (especially technical capabilities)
- What are – especially technical – capabilities that are relevant in IoT scenarios?
- How could these capabilities be described?
- What could a technical IoT capability map look like?
- What are the characteristics of an IoT scenario?
- What are typical IoT reference scenarios?
- How to map IoT scenarios to company areas (Industry, LoB)
IoT Platform & Operations
- How to design an enterprise IoT platform
- How to onboard devices and machines
- How to operate high volume of IoT devices and data
IoT Architecture & Design
- What is the definition of an enterprise IoT architecture?
- How to design technical IoT components (like an IoT gateway)
- How to design an IoT landscape architecture for an enterprise?
- How to plan and execute an IoT prototype?
- How to gather the important insights through an IoT prototype?
IoT Strategy & Roadmap
- How to build an IoT roadmap?
- What are the top 10 actions that are relevant for a successful IoT project?
- What are typical challenges and critical success factors in IoT projects?
IoT-relevant Approaches & Guidance
- Which best practices can be used for IoT reference scenarios and projects?
- Which deployment scenarios are relevant in IoT reference scenarios?
IoT-relevant SAP products
- What is the IoT portfolio of SAP?
- What consulting and support services does SAP provide in the context of IoT?
As mentioned before, my plan is to produce blogs about the outcomes as they become available in our group.
Deliver, Measure and Sustain
Right after the discover and plan page, the deliver and measure phase puts the focus on implementing your agreed IoT roadmap that turns your IoT strategy into reality.
You might have noticed in my previous blog that I didn’t mention the “roadmap” topic, even though it is mentioned as step five in the journey graphic I employ. This was actually intentional.
My personal goal is to come up with something that is similar to what I did one and a half years ago and was called the “Example flow of a UX improvement project”.
The graphic above provides an initial impression of what I have in mind for the future. I would like to provide a document that details the different phases of an IoT project and connects it to information in SAP EA Explorer, as well as to videos and blogs.
What you see above was also the result of a cooperation with the German SAP User Group (DSAG), where we had a group of customers interested in UX, similar to the group I mentioned above, started in with an interest in IoT.
This therefore explains why I left out the topic of “roadmaps” in step 5. I just need more time to gather relevant information and structure the information with customers and colleagues.
Measuring your results
As you iterate by repeating the IoT journey, it is highly likely that you will be able to use the results as positioning for your upcoming IoT projects. It is therefore important to have the right KPIs set to help you persuade your management to invest in more IoT activities. You might already have a feeling about what management is looking for. With this in mind, I’m think of dedicating a blog to the question “How to position IoT in front of your management?”. If you think this is a good idea, please let me know.
As we are surrounded by constant change, we need to do the following:
- Make sure that we don’t miss opportunities to identify new improvement potential
- Make sure that past IoT achievements do not become unstable.
Other IT projects or other events in your company can potentially change the results of your IoT achievements. In IoT scenarios, this is even more evident, as there are a lot of different components involved across your company that can change over time.
I believe it is a good idea to have a dedicated place, where your IoT activities are centrally coordinated and where your IoT-driven business improvements can be sustained.
Depending on the size of your company and the IoT-driven projects, this could be just a dedicated person, maybe called “the IoT architect”. Or maybe a center of excellence (CoE) that establishes an IoT capability and is tasked to continuously drive business value through IoT improvements.
Would you like more details about the sustain phase? If yes, please let me know.
What comes next?
When I started this blog series, I saw the single blogs describing the steps 1-6 of the journey as a framework for additional blogs to come. I’ll wait a while now so that I can gauge what my readers think from their feedback. My work with DSAG already indicates that more blogs will follow sooner or later.
I hope you have enjoyed this series so far. Please let me know what you are interested in and what information you are looking for. I’m always interested in your feedback.
All the best,