Help Wanted: IoT Roadmaps Needed!

The old adage “You can’t get there from here” is an expression that suggests a destination can’t be reached without extensive, complicated directions. Now imagine how much more frustrating it would be for the person seeking directions if they didn’t even know where “here” was, let alone “there.” In recent intelligence work that we completed for a leading provider of IoT solutions, this is exactly what we found for many prospective buyers of IoT solutions.

The findings were actually quite basic with profound implications… namely that potential buyers need crystal clear implementation roadmaps for IoT solutions for specific problems in their specific industries. We found that 60% of respondents from multiple vertical industries were planning on exploring IoT projects, but only 5% actually had a clear business case in mind to invest against. Translated, prospective buyers get the value and are excited by the promise of IoT to their business, but are terribly in the dark on how exactly they would even begin to get started with a successful IoT “starter initiative”. That’s the core problem facing IoT vendors – offering clear and simple roadmaps for first time IoT buyers to make it easy to have a successful experience. There’s a very long tail of potential revenues once a buyer starts this path but getting them started required more help.

Read more about how IoT fits into CMO’s 2019 plans in Six Early Go-to-Market Trends and Tips for 2019

So what’s the solution to helping develop these roadmaps? We uncovered three practices others were taking that proved effective in helping buyers take that first step:

  1. Allow for an inexpensive “crawl-walk-run” experience: In May of last year, we noted favorable discussions on Google entering the IoT space with their Cloud IoT Core platform in public beta. The BETA version included a BYOD key feature and secure connectivity over HTTP. The price? Absolutely free for the first 250MB of data each month. The intent was to allow an educational and experimental instance that would help customers explore how device data can be sourced, transferred, and analyzed without first lining up a massive investment.
  2. Partner with providers who know your prospects’ industries and can provide critical guidance: In Q4 of last year, the acquisition deal between Tech Data and Avnet put both companies in a better place to focus on industry solutions and strategies for clients needing deeper vertical expertise. By combining forces, they were meeting the challenge of helping clients define industry-specific business solutions, such as in-store shopper tracking to deliver personalized service for retailers, as opposed to just promoting broad, cross-industry IoT solutions (e.g., inventory management).
  3. Increase education and skillsets of your clients: An additional factor that we discovered in why prospective customers couldn’t adequately envision clear pathways to utilize IoT was an absence of the right skillsets in-house. To that end, we noticed in January of this year how much buyers were mentioning the recently released AWS Training and Certification’s free digital training courses created to help customers better grasp and become knowledgeable in all things data and IoT. Paid classroom courses were also being offered, but Amazon recognized the need to get the ball rolling on helping develop internal skills with current and new customer. If an educated buyer makes a better buyer, then delivering insights and action plans to potential IoT buyers is sure to reduce barriers to adoption.

Case Study in Success

In our market research, we came across a noticeable amount of discussions coming out of the Health IT Conference (HIMSS18) in March of this year. What we noticed was how IoT vendors and healthcare professionals were not seeing eye-to-eye. While vendors showed up at the conference excited to offer complex and exciting solutions using big data to drive better health information technology, healthcare professionals were noting (See figure below) how much this was over their head, and that they were more interested in simply wanting to know how IoT could first help solve for more fundamental challenges like keeping patient data better organized and secure.

Figure 1: Conversations at HIMSS18 on data solutions for healthcare professionals.

Interestingly, in that same measurement period, we saw how solution provider MicroStrategy was successfully getting inside social discussions around the #HIMSS18 conference.  Drilling into these discussions, we found the reason was that MicroStrategy was at the conference providing demos and case studies on concrete, vertical-specific solutions.   The firm was detailing how data, analytics and IoT solutions were being used at a hospital in Boston to better detail bed utilization and capacity as a means of improving and increasing the efficiency of patient care.  The result was that these discussions were yielding social media engagement because they met the very need we noted above.

Figure 2: MicroStrategy discussions for the month of March 2018.


With over 30 billion devices and $2.5 trillion in spending forecasted against IoT by 2020, there is no question that the IoT space holds the potential for riches for many vendors.  But the race is on to win over new customers.

The problem that vendors must solve is delivering the much needed (and wanted) help to buyers in the form of straightforward, industry-specific guidance and IoT adoption roadmaps — with education, starter initiatives, and the ROI business case – to ease the uninitiated onto the promising path of IoT-enabled digital transformation of their businesses.  Providers that recognize this, and deliver this directly and through partners,  will set themselves up for great success.

Get more detail on cross-sell techniques leveraging IoT data