IoT: Leading the Way to an Insight-Driven Organization
By Joseph Bradley, VP, Cisco
That’s the true currency of the digital age? It’s not bitcoin (yet). It’s insight.
That means it’s not enough simply to have Big Data. You need to use it, smartly — with the ultimate goal of creating an insight-driven organization. That is, if you want to win in an Internet of Things economy in which disruption arises suddenly and seemingly from nowhere.
An insight-driven organization demands technology change, for sure. Your network must be agile, modernized, and secure. The central nervous system of your enterprise is the ability to send the right information to the right people at the right time.
But it also takes culture change. To ensure that the whole organization is on board — eliminating friction, and bringing insight to bear on every decision, while transcending hierarchies and silos.
Technology change and culture change both demand careful leadership. To guide the transformation to a place where friction is forgotten, and insight rules.
But how should leaders build their change strategy? And where should they start?
Here are five core action items that will enable business and technology leaders to lay the foundation for an insight-driven organization.
Identify Your Listening Sources
In an Internet of Things world, you have to capture the right data. But that won’t happen if you don’t nail down the right sources for that data. So, ask yourself what insights are you trying to capture? And equally important, what are your data blind spots? Do you need additional data from ERP systems, economic or customer trends from social media, insights into competitors, alternative opinions from people within your company? Whatever it is, you’ll probably find that that current information falls far short of what an insight-driven organization demands. It’s up to you as a leader to expand those sources.
The whole point of being an insight-driven organization is to get smarter
Prioritize Your Dark Assets
Every unconnected machine part, store shelf, parking lot, product, package, and vehicle has a story to tell. As a leader, you’ll need to decide which of those dark assets, if they could talk, would provide the most compelling stories and drive the most immediate value. Those stories could center around where those assets are at any given time, what and how they are doing, or their future condition. Then, decide which of those stories you need the most, and prioritize which things should be “lit up” first. Once you start mapping dark assets, you’ll begin to create a roadmap to IoT value.
Demand Shared Risk
The whole point of being an insight-driven organization is to get smarter. To know, for example, the cause and effect of temperature rises in an industrial machine or engine. But since IoT is all about ecosystems, you’ll want to purchase just about everything as a service. That means if the insight you and your vendor are capturing on temperature spikes fails to prevent an engine failure, you won’t suffer the consequences alone. Preventing your downtime should be a prime objective of that partner. So you don’t lose money and productivity, and they don’t lose the subscription. In short, state your conditions upfront: if you want to do business with me, then guarantee me an output, not just a product.
Innovate Outside Your Four Walls
There is a vast source of creative energy waiting to be tapped, and it probably dwarfs your own talent pool. I’m referring to the freelance workforce. And it is growing, as the “gig economy” accelerates, and platforms like Kaggle, Upwork and, Gas Jumpers enter the mainstream. Every leader should get used to thinking this way. Even on small projects, learn to modularize the problem, and export it outside the four walls of your organization. There is talent out there that you need, but some of them may not want to work for you full-time. Or you might not need them full time. So, let the freelance crowd work over that problem, and see if you don’t gain some unique perspectives and ideas along the way.
Face Your Blindspots
Nobody wants to be 'Uberized' or 'Amazoned'. But let’s face it, a lot of companies are being digitally disrupted. One reason is that not enough are exploring what disruption could look like or from where it might arise. One model I love is the ethical hacking “red teams” that some companies employ. Their job is to deliberately penetrate an organization’s cybersecurity defenses and then report back on those vulnerabilities. But who’s keeping an eye out for disruptive business models? No one, I would guess. In addition to red teams of hackers, I suggest blue teams for business models. Once a quarter (disruption happens too fast to wait a year), put together a blue team to probe for vulnerabilities in your existing business models. While exploring how you might be disrupted, you might just uncover a new way to disrupt.
So, in short: invest in your network. Think about how information should flow. And eliminate the friction that is slowing you down. The Internet of Things is exploding around us. And insight is king. Make sure that your insight is the currency driving your future success.