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How to Gain Traction and Avoid the Common Mistakes in the Early Stage of Your IoT Program

by Exosite, on February 23, 2018

In a previous blog entitled, The Stages of the IoT Project Lifecyclewe walked through all the stages each IoT project faces. In this blog we dive deeper into the first stage, known as the Explore stage, to provide tips on how to start your IoT project off on the right foot.

Starting any IoT project is challenging, and when organizations are new to adopt IoT it can seem even more daunting. The good news is that there are many companies that have successfully adopted IoT and we've captured the common pitfalls and their solutions from our firsthand experience helping companies start their IoT program. The section below will highlight the three main roadblocks we've witnessed companies of all sizes struggle with as they try to adopt IoT, and it will also provide the solutions to overcoming these initial challenges.

Common Pitfalls and Solutions

Analysis paralysis. With so many options and no obvious path forward, it’s easier to do nothing and wait for a competitor to push the organization into acting. The best way to sort through all of the noise is by looking to existing strategic roadmaps for inspiration.

  • Solution: Determine how to align product ideas and business concepts to the organization’s strategic plan. Most plans will align to one of four growth strategies; these strategies are identified below and can be used as a filter to narrow product-idea focus and provide a significantly higher chance of getting the buy-in and budget necessary to move forward. For additional information about key growth strategies, check out Exosite’s IoT - Money Talks webinar.

Four Key Growth Strategies to Focus Product Ideas

  1. Improve Monetization: Improve the sales channel experience, automate fulfillment of parts or consumables, and drive additional after-market sales. Create new value that can convert into more sales to existing customers.
  2. Improve Profitability: Reduce operational spending or cost of goods through internal efficiency gains, improved supply chain awareness, reduced idle labor, reduced fuel expenses and drive time, route optimization, asset tracking, performance tracking, and more.
  3. Improve Current Market Share: Get more customers in markets that exist today by offering more competitive features or more compelling services to allow sales channels to tap into competitor's markets.
  4. Drive New Acquisitions: Capture new markets or customer segments with a new product offering or service. Convert businesses within partner networks and sales channels into paying customers, not just cost centers.

Imposter syndrome. Some organizations do not see themselves as a technology company and are hesitant to proceed, even with a strong business case and a compelling product concept to socialize.

  • Solution: De-emphasize IoT as the goal of the project and instead focus on IoT as a tool or feature that enables the ability to create new value for customers. This mindset keeps early projects from straying too far from the core business and core product lines.

Putting too much value on technology. Instead of being better at creating the types of products that customers want, some organizations see their ability to control the technology as their key to a competitive strategy and will invest significant resources into reinventing the wheel. Organizations that choose to build and own the bulk of a technology stack often find themselves drowning in technical debt and they lose the ability to focus on their core business. IoT has been heavily commoditized and its real value is derived from the unique solutions that it enables. The most common commodities in IoT include:

  • Infrastructure and data storage
  • Public cloud hosting platforms
  • Analytics
  • Security
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • Simple device management

Reinventing some or all of these components creates significant delays, increases project overhead, and turns organizations into their own platform company before they even have a single connected product successfully commercialized.

  • Solution: Organizations should consider buying and partnering appropriately, allowing for investments in things that competitors can’t easily replicate or reverse-engineer. Maximizing ROI and deepening competitive advantages happens not by investing in more technology, but by investing in people, their knowledge, and the tools to support them. Organizational strategy should be focused on the adoption of new innovation practices around user-experience research and software product management; updating stage gate processes, design frameworks, and evaluation criterion; training project teams; and growing internal understanding of data science and analytics. Investments like those will ensure the roadmap is full of products that address real business problems worth paying for.


If you are struggling knowing where and how to begin in the early stages of your IoT journey, you are not alone. Understanding the common pitfalls and their solutions is the right place to start. To learn more, download your own copy of our free Understanding the IoT Project Lifecycle white paper. If you'd like to learn what the next step is in your IoT journey, download our IoT Readiness guide or connect with one of our IoT experts.

Topics:IoT Strategy

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