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10 principles of a successful IoT strategy

Thor Olavsrud | Jan. 31, 2017
Former Amazon executive John Rossman says these 10 principles can help leaders successfully approach the internet of things.

At Amazon, he says, "obsession" means a willingness to do really hard things just to make life easier for customers, even if those things won't drive short-term profit. It also means constantly reevaluating the customer experience and never settling for "good enough."

IoT principle 2: Create seamless experiences across platforms and channels

In an IoT-enabled world, your customers will interact with you across a series of platforms and devices. "You need to focus on the omnichannel experience when you connect across channels and experiences," Rossman says. "Providing that seamless customer experience is a really important part of improving that customer experience."

The key to creating great omnichannel experiences is to master information continuity, Rossman says. For instance, if a customer has a faulty connected vacuum cleaner and calls one of your customer-service agents, that agent should already be able to see where the vacuum cleaner is and what's wrong with it — better yet, that agent could contact the customer proactively with a solution.

IoT principle 3: Pursue continuous improvements

Connected devices and IoT offer the opportunity to examine your processes like never before, providing the tools you need to drive change and improvements on a continuous basis. "You have access to much better data, much better signals," Rossman says.

"That gives you the ability to create a whole new wave of visibility and process improvement within your organization." Connected devices, he says, can give you real-time insight into the flow, status and state of key items in your process

IoT principle 4: Data isn't enough, do the math

IoT will help you collect data on your operations at a scale and magnitude beyond anything you've seen before, Rossman says, but the data isn't enough. You need to leverage that data with models, analytics and algorithms that help you generate insight from it.

"Your operations can give you much better data, which can tell you what's happening within your organization," Rossman says. "With that, you can strive to create a formulaic understanding of your processes that will give you more insight and definition to tighten up and reinvent those processes."

Within Amazon, Rossman says, teams spend as much, or even more time, defining and agreeing on how to measure a new feature, service or product as they do designing the feature itself. They consider the inputs and outputs of an operation and the data required to run that operation and understand its inner workings.

IoT principle 5: Think big, but start small

Successfully innovating with IoT requires vision, Rossman says. You need to think big if you're going to create fundamental transformation. But big visions are brought into being with small, discrete projects that allow you to fail and iterate with experience gained from those failures.


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