An undeniable aspect of the new Internet of Things marketplace is that leadership is crucial to reaching success. Not only do new and existing companies have to create something unique and useful, but they have to do so in a market where growth and success are volatile and unpredictable. Even the traditional winners - Nike, Sony, Samsung - have to reconsider and relaunch constantly.
According to a “Software for the Internet of Things Developer Survey,” conducted by Embarcadero Technologies, 77 percent of development teams will have IoT solutions in active development in 2015 with almost half (49 percent) expecting their solutions to have a business impact by the end of the year. This is a big jump from the 12 percent launching IoT solutions in 2014. The survey also found rising customer demand among the top drivers for "Things" solution development in 2015.
What that means for businesses is a complete reappraisal of their go-to-market leadership strategy, and the need to think critically about new roles. Traditional product teams will no longer cut it - the new team needs cutting edge technology and electronics experience, time in the new market, and an innovative approach.
Enter the CIOTO.
Real Money, Real Consequences
The Embarcadero surveyis just scratching the surface when it comes to the business value of IOT leadership. If, as IDC recently projected, the value of the Internet of Things is approaching $1.7 billion dollars—who are your internal guardians of your company’s investment?
For traditional technology leaders, this transition may be harder than it looks. The Internet of Things marketplace is fast moving, and poorly defined, meaning that sales can come sporadically and upstarts can quickly undermine a launch. While planning and research still play a large role, the new enterprise demands fast movement and smart decisions that seek to push forward the market or open new sectors.
A great recent survey run by Dimensional Research shows that IoT deployment efforts are “slowing.” In fact 94 percent of developers surveyed said that collecting and analyzing data is the most common challenge. Consultant Jeff Kaplan of THINK strategies says that the missing link is the ability of “classic” IT developers to link their activities to corporate strategies:
“This demands a multidimensional perspective that spans the traditional corporate silos, and bridges the gap between business and technology."
I agree: the time is here for businesses to proactively seek leadership that can not only lead the technology team, but also support business forecasting and weather a nearly random market. This is a role that currently does not exist: the CIOTO.
Others in this space see the CIOTO position as a natural outcropping of what IT has done well over the past decade—become a business partner, with enterprise-wide, strategy enabling abilities.
Many, like CIO James Brown of Crayola, disagree for good reason. In an article last month in ComputerWorld, Brown shared that he “doesn't see the need for a new position." Why?
"For a long time we [IT departments] have been asked to be engaged in the business," said Brown, "I think this is an opportunity for IT to take a leadership role."
The question for your organization is: can your existing IT leadership team embrace a full spectrum technology and business awareness role, or do you need a new expert?
How to Find the Right Fit
What do I think a CIOTO looks like? I think the CIOTO has to have mastery in four major areas:
1) Architecture Strategy Smarts – if your “in-house” systems are not in order, it doesn’t matter how many “things” you are trying to smarten up for your customers. Even B2B IOT developers must take note—even though we know much of this revolution will happen in the cloud, their strategy must mirror solid, architectural mandates, including layered security and governance policies. As you know, the IOT provides millions of nodes for hackers to target. An ideal CIOTO should have a good grasp of IT security and a background in following good governance practices. Otherwise, the projects he leads will be too slapdash to sustain- at best. At worst, he will leave you open to security snafus that will hit your bottom line-hard.
2) Great CRM and/or Sales/Marketing Savvy - The most profitable IOT leaders must know how to run the customer-facing facets of the IOT. The multi-nationals use Chief Data Officers and Chief Digital Marketing Officers to ensure these activities shine. Your CIOTO needs many of the same skills. The biggest of big data lives in these customer records—the kinds of data that can give your company a competitive edge.
3) Product Development “Chops” - Your CIOTO must know how to navigate the R&D waters. Or you need to enable her with a solid, executive-board level mentor early on to get her up to speed. Most IT leaders understand the use of new and “upgraded” products and how to roll them out. Few recognize the specific challenges of taking a product to lifecycle—and beyond. In this day and age, many companies in the IOT space aren’t even going to production while they’re selling their ideas to VCs. You need a practical, experienced leader to manage the innovations inherent in IOT.
4) Enterprise-Wide, Project Management Muscle – If you haven’t run a huge project for a company of comparable size, with all of the politics, roadblocks, silos and, um, nonsense that goes with it, you can’t get an IOT project started, let alone sustain a number of these projects across different functional areas, get them in on time, and show a stunning ROI. You. Just. Can’t. Your CIOTO must be a project management superstar – better yet, a portfolio management superstar used to guiding enterprise-wide, strategy-specific ideas to fruition.
This person is not a fictional character, but seeking an expert in all four traits is difficult. Yet, I know several individuals that would not only fit the bill, but also truly empower your IOT efforts to realize all of the benefits this exciting movement promises. Chief Internet of Transformation Officer, anyone?
Let me know what you think of these four attributes and if you have any to add. I’m open to your ideas, and would love to work with you to find and fill your next CIOTO.