10 Methods for Companies to Take the Big Leap into the Internet of Things

Head of Marketing, De

January 13, 2016

The Internet of Things will revolutionize the way we live and work. This strategic checklist will help companies to plot the right course that will take them there.

1. Have courage for partnerships

The Internet of Things and the digital economy thrive on network effects. From this follows: open your companies to partnerships. If you can win strong partners you will not only profit from their expertise, but also from their business scope, range of activities and users.

2. Put yourself in your customers' shoes

Regardless of what kind of service you are able to develop, the question is: what does your customer really need? Which product, which service will make their lives easier and what is dead weight? To create an eco-system in the IoT that will retain customers long-term requires a clear understanding of their actual needs. Test your services under real-life conditions and involve your customers as often as possible – prior, during and (in particular) after the development.

3. Question your business model

"If a business model in an established industry is not efficient, sooner or later it will be attacked or streamlined to better fit the digital consumer". In the spirit of this quote by Jeremy Rifkin, founder and CEO of The Foundation on Economic Trends, you should identify the weak spots of your business models before others do it. Get into the mindset of a startup business that wants to push you out of the market - the moment YOU know how to do it – Do it!

4. Accept help

If your skills are not up to the job, do not hesitate to ask for external help by experts such as IT shops, creative and digital agencies or marketing consultants. They can assist you with their experience to sidestep the usual traps, and to position your products faster and with less friction in the market.

5. Build trust

Data capture is an essential part of IoT. Here, it is important to ensure transparency and to present the collected data in an adequate, downloadable form.

6. Open your eco-system

Grant access with well-documented APIs and offer your customers connectivity to popular services ( As long as these services hide behind "walled gardens", IoT will not be able to live up to its full potential and the scope of your business model will remain limited.

7. Be agile in your work

Until recently, the market was characterized by short and disruptive innovation cycles. New touch points are being created almost every day that generate new patterns of behavior. Instead of drawing up extensive specifications or detailed requirements at the beginning of a development cycle, the agile process starts quickly, goal-oriented and in incremental steps. New ideas are developed, tested and implemented in close coordination with the customer. This helps to identify bugs and kinks early on and eliminate them.

8. Start an innovation culture

Establish a culture of innovation in your company. Disruption and innovation are typical and important parameters in the IoT where permanent change becomes the ultimate constant. To achieve this, it is absolutely crucial to set up structures for the organization and personnel that allow the status quo to be questioned – and to go where no one has gone before – even if the expected ROI is a long shot.

9. Train your employees

To understand and implement the IoT and its potential, more and more expert knowledge in the field of software is vital. Here, the IT department is just one factor. To formulate common goals and pursue them, skills and expertise have to be trained and build across departments: be it Marketing, Communications or Strategy.

10. Think big, start small

Even if this may sound simple: don't let yourself be intimidated by the many challenges of this dynamic, explorative and highly contested market in the IoT. Living a vision starts with the first step – you only have to take it.