Avoiding ‘pilot purgatory’; don’t try this alone
On April 9 it was World IoT Day. It is nine years since the IoT Council launched this initiative, since when it has grown in both scope and scale. It has spawned many events and activities globally, marking the evolution of IoT, not least of which was the inaugural IoT Day Slam virtual conference organised by 23,000+ members of the IoT Community.
I reference these events to illustrate how industry can come together to further the adoption and application of IoT in commercial environments, to overcome technical and operational issues. And it is this sort of collaboration that we all need to bear in mind when helping clients scale up pilot projects.
Last year the World Economic Forum† painted rather a depressing picture when it reported that over 70% of industrial companies were still either at the beginning of the journey or unable to go beyond pilot stage, a phenomenon described as ‘pilot purgatory’. It claimed 84% of companies were stuck in pilot mode for over a year, and 28% for more than two years.
This is why participating in virtual consortiums like IoT Day Slam and contributing to the IoT Community are so critical. Only recently, Zebra talked of how it had benefitted from the shared insights of other IoT solution developers. It qualified this by saying that companies applying technologies designed by Zebra stand to gain just as much, if not more, from this collaborative environment.
And this seemed to be one of the messages emerging from a recent survey* on beyond proofs of concept and scaling industrial IoT. It claimed that operational technology vendors and manufacturers will need to mobilise quickly in order to gain the necessary capabilities, and position themselves for sustainable success.
It advised companies not to try this alone but to work closely with analytics vendors or enterprise IT vendors, and cloud service providers for the gaps in knowledge and capabilities required. It also cautioned against unmanageable alliances with too many players, suggesting partnerships were more effective with a selective approach based on the use case.
And such partnerships are already bearing fruit as illustrated by an interface created through Zebra’s Savanna™ platform with software and hardware development firm, Problem Solutions. They worked together to develop IoT sensors that would monitor warehouses and utilities, for example, for gas leaks to ensure safe evacuation.
When Savanna™ was launched by Zebra in 2017, it invited its partner community wishing to take IoT cloud mobility to the next level to leverage its R&D investment. This negated firms having to build their own platform to collect edge data, they’d be given access through an API to that data to enable applications to be written.
If survey* results are to be believed, the IoT technology applications gaining most traction are in quality control, remote monitoring of assets/equipment and predictive maintenance. Smart city solutions like water and pollution monitoring may have generated a lot of media attention but had failed to garner interest from vendors and customers.
So, the advice to avoid pilot purgatory would seem, in part, to be building an ecosystem of technology partners. It’s claimed2 that 40% of manufacturers prefer to build their own technology stacks in-house because they need to bridge a wide range of systems, some of which were procured from vendors and some developed in-house or co-developed. In this instance, they should select a few partners with functional and integrative expertise with whom to co-develop.
And when it comes to co-developing I think Zebra says it all: “an IoT investment is essential to becoming a truly intelligent enterprise. And the insights gleaned from business leaders, technology developers and early adopters in the IoT Community will help you make the right investment the first time.”
Remember; ‘don’t try this alone!’
Renovotec is the UK’s fastest growing provider of rugged mobile hardware; as well as delivering end to end managed & consultancy services, wireless networking, enterprise mobility, mobile data capture, printing and hardware rentals solutions. With over 25 years of industry experience, Renovotec supports customers across multiple industry verticals – including warehousing, transport & logistics, manufacturing and field mobility. For more information call 01924 600480
Author: Richard Gilliard
† The Next Economic Growth Engine white paper by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey & Company
* Beyond Proofs of Concept: Scaling the Industrial IoT, Bain & Company, 2019
2 Digital manufacturing – escaping pilot purgatory, Digital/Mckinsey 2018