How to manage IoT implementations

Evaluating the current state of the organization is key to understanding where and how to start implementing an Internet of Things (IoT) solution.
By Nicole Dyess, Motors@Work July 3, 2018

Maintenance maturity curve is a fluid scale that ranges from reactive to predictive maintenance. By collecting and analyzing massive amounts of asset operating data, IoT tools advance the industry towards predictive, reliability-centered maintenance. Courtesy: Motors@WorkBecause the Internet of Things (IoT) can transform some existing business processes, it is best to take a change management approach to all IoT projects big and small. Working with small projects allows practice for the larger projects that are more complex. A change management approach also helps unearth and address concerns, such as cost, privacy, and/or cybersecurity.

The preferred change-management approach has six stages:

  1. Establish the need to change
  2. Create a coalition
  3. Develop a plan
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate
  5. Celebrate wins early and often
  6. Reinforce changes.

What’s the best place to start with IoT?

Most organizations have already implemented technologies – such as instrumentation, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and enterprise asset management (EAM) or computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS)—to provide near-real-time visibility of their processes and operations. So, what’s the most cost-effective way to add IoT to the mix?

The answer depends upon two things: 1) the urgency of the need to adopt IoT; and 2) the organization’s technology maturity.

The first element of change management involves identifying a problem and establishing the need to adopt a change. The bigger and more painful the problem, the need to change becomes and the more persuasive the vision for how IoT will address the problem will be.

To identify a problem statement, ask the following questions:

  • How will the IoT affect your industry?
  • What are industry peers and leaders doing?
  • How can the IoT take existing technology investments and business processes to the next level?

The first question helps identify and prepare for future threats; the second focuses on gaining or retaining competitiveness. Helpful resources include consulting firms’ industry-specific analyses and IoT solution providers’ case studies; and research.

The third question—how the IoT can take an organization to the next level—seeks to uncover pain points such as process inefficiencies where IoT presents an opportunity for a quick return on investment (ROI). The answer here generally relates to the organization’s technology maturity.

Technology maturity

Depending on the organization’s technology maturity, there may be some logical next steps for IoT adoption. These steps leverage existing technologies to implement more integrated, IoT-driven business processes. To define "technology maturity" let’s take an example focusing on the maintenance and reliability side of the organization.

Where does your organization fall on this curve?

If the organization is at the low end of the curve, with few formalized business processes and basic, if any, work management technology in place, jumping straight to a predictive approach will cost a lot of money. While companies may envision a future where the business is firmly in the predictive camp, think of IoT investments like climbing a staircase: rather than leaping to the top, take a series of small, discrete, and cost-effective steps.

First, put internal work management processes in place, aided by technology, such as a CMMS or EAM; these processes and systems will help better manage work and identify problem assets. Next, as identify work processes and issues are recognized, preventive maintenance tasks can be added. These are vital steps to take to start implementing a successful IoT solution.

Nicole Dyess is the director of client solutions at Motors@Work, a CFE Media content partner.