May 11, 2015
Our real world experience is feeling more and more like science fiction. We’re having serious conversations about “things” talking to other “things.” We wonder if our refrigerator has effective cyber security. Our car and smart phones argue about the fastest way to drive home. The emerging IoT world is exciting, sometimes foreign and full of opportunity. But it can also feel overwhelming. How do we keep up, much less stay ahead, when connectivity is changing everything?
Disruptive moments like this often give way to a natural instinct: hunker down and hoard resources. For many businesses, that means building ever higher (fire)walls, building an arsenal for the patent wars and gobbling up scarce technical talent. After all, the thinking goes, you need a cadre of technical experts to compete and win in IoT, and protecting the exciting technologies they develop is an existential need.
But it is increasingly clear this approach is misguided. While you certainly need clever engineers, succeeding in the Internet of Things is less about the things you make than it is how you engage with people: your competitors, government counterparts and customers. How you interact with these groups will determine your ability to succeed as much, if not more, than your technical prowess.
In fact, despite the technical complexity of the IoT world, you’ll get ahead by remembering the simple lessons you were taught as a child.
- Play nice. You’ll always have competitors that you’ll want to beat in the market, but you can’t treat them like enemies. Connected products, the cornerstone of IoT, are only as good as their ability to “talk” to other products. Yes, that includes your competitors, so work with them to come to industry-wide agreements on standards and policies that will ensure we’re building an increasingly connected society. And let’s get there faster than we did with USB charging.
- Share with others. Your innovation won’t realize its potential in isolation. Google showed the power of opening up, and now Android is the most widely used mobile platform. So find opportunities to share across your industry and with public sector leaders. Get together to identify shared needs, pool resources and develop the next generation of IoT engineers. Engage early and often with governments as partners, not regulators, so that they can invest in the right
- Use your imagination. IoT will not only transform industries, but even more fundamentally, it will change how we live. The potential for improvements to safety, security and everyday life—they’re only limited to our imagination. Technical schema and detailed standards are important, but shouldn’t limit the big dreams that IoT promises. This should be fun: Rediscover your imagination, challenge long-held assumptions, and make cool stuff that improves lives.
Ultimately the organizations that have the most success in IoT will be the ones who collaborate best. Everything is changing, but it is still all about making connections.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Denis Cosgrove (@CosgroveDenis) is a leader in Booz Allen Hamilton’s high-tech manufacturing business focusing on connected vehicles. For more insights, view a paper he co-authored on the Connected Car Movement.