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Predictions from diverse sources agree that the Internet of Things (IoT) will dramatically impact both businesses and consumers to the tune of between $2 trillion and $14 trillion by 2020. 

With the clock ticking and expectations so high, it’s no surprise that for the third year in a row, the IoT dominated the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where more than 900 companies out of 3,800 claimed to have IoT products. 

IoT Requires a New Playbook for CIOs

As more and more companies seek to develop enterprise-level IoT capabilities, today’s CIOs stand at the crossroads between managing their departments’ current IT assets and creating and deploying the kinds of new, intelligent systems needed to support the voracious data, personnel and security needs of IoT.

As companies move into IoT and find that there’s no playbook yet defined, CIOs will need to take the lead in putting the right infrastructure, systems, people, processes and practices in place. CIOs who demonstrate their comfort at the center of the IoT juggernaut hold the keys to propelling their IoT businesses to product wins that beat out the competition. 

The 6-Step IoT Game Plan

Successfully positioning organizations to take advantage of the massive IoT trend requires CIOs to coordinate six crucial steps.  These can help your organization successfully build enterprise IoT capabilities and ensure that your company is positioned to take advantage of the massive IoT trend. 

1. Create an IoT Vision and Roadmap

To determine an organization’s best starting point, it’s vital to understand its current product and operational landscape. Only by doing this, can a company determine what role IoT can and should play in helping it meet its future business needs.

A CIO should start by working with other C-Suite managers to plot how IoT will fit into the company’s current and long-term strategies. And while it’s thrilling to generate pie-in-the-sky ideas and concepts, it’s also vital to temper them with realistic assessments of threats and opportunities. 

Facilitating feedback from key stakeholders in an organization as well as concept validation from key customers is also imperative. Based on all of these inputs, the CIO’s next step is to reality test the most promising ideas and prepare roadmaps that break the projects down into well-thought out next steps. 

But no organization should bite off more than it can chew in the name of creativity: It’s the CIO’s job to make sure that the organization starts small and moves fast but remains prepared to pivot along the way by moving more rapidly in one area, say, or by acknowledging the need to park a project on the backburner for a time. 

2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

It is also incumbent upon CIOs to remember that while IoT has the potential to completely transform a company's business model, it will also be disruptive in some less positive ways. 

CIOs need to be ready for the ripple effect of IoT’s changes on everything from an organization’s operations and processes to its culture, organizational structure, policies and practices as well. 

That means that CIOs must be prepared to reach out to HR to to develop processes that educate and engage employees about an IoT program, the changes it will bring to the business and how it will impact the nature and flow of their day-to-day work.

3. Attract, Train and Retain the Right Talent

Identifying and recruiting the right talent to achieve a company’s IoT objectives is one of the biggest challenges that a CIO faces. To properly deploy the army of business analysts, domain consultants, cloud architects, design experts and data scientists needed to launch an IoT project, a CIO needs a clear blueprint and timeline in mind.  

What’s more, the competition for those resources in hot spots like Silicon Valley means that CIOs must collaborate with their HR and Training departments to ensure that the right talent with the right skills is available at the right time. 

4. Adopt Continuous Development Cycles

The world of product development cycles has accelerated as agile development processes have made smaller, incremental releases of upgrades and enhancements the new rule. If an organization wants to play on the IoT field, it will need to up its game even further. 

CIOs should be aware that with the continuous development cycles of IoT, it won’t be about two-week development sprints any longer but rather the expectation of ongoing releases every week.

5. Create a Robust Data Structure

The promise of IoT to capture environmental and location use data and connect it with data that allows for deeper insights while lowering costs and improving quality is vast, but a CIO must make sure an organization’s data architecture is up to the task. 

Using a data lake for aggregating raw internal and external data from multiple formats is key to improving flexibility, allowing for more sophisticated analytics and creating a competitive advantage. 

6. Embed Security in Product Design

One of the most critical aspects of IoT centers on securing its data, network and products, and that security is and will continue to be costly. To protect IoT’s open systems and make them less vulnerable to malicious cyberattacks, CIOs must make sure that security is deeply embedded in the product design process.

That means that CIOs must plan for multi-layered authentication and ways to allow users to control what type and how much data is transmitted.  And ongoing as well, data policies must be created to stay abreast of stricter regulations and provide transparency.