The Stages of The IoT Project Lifecycle
Exosite

January 31, 2018

The Stages of The IoT Project Lifecycle

Creating successful IoT-enabled products and services is not an impossible task; it’s just a challenging one when organizations try to do too much at once, make project commitments without asking the right questions, or do things in the wrong order. To be successful, it’s critical to understand what the entire IoT journey looks like and accurately identify where an organization is in that journey—after all, it’s only possible to know what immediate next steps to take when the final destination is clear.

Because every organization has different levels of experience, actionable market opportunities, or internal resources at their disposal, there is no step-by-step guide to completely avoid this type of dysfunction. However, Exosite has developed the IoT Project Lifecycle framework to provide project stakeholders a holistic overview of the connected-product project lifecycle that greatly increases the chances of success.  The framework breaks the process down into four stages—explore, validate, accelerate, and commercialize—and identifies key objectives and tasks that project teams should focus on in each stage. The IoT Project Lifecycle framework also helps explain how the definition of success changes over time as a project progresses through each lifecycle stage. In this blog, which is the first of several, we’ve provided a high-level overview of each phase. 

Stage 1: Explore

Organizations in the midst of the Explore stage are typically looking to build a case around why they should get involved with IoT, including how it may aid in new customer acquisition or uncover new revenue streams. The technical objectives are geared towards identifying gaps in technical capabilities, and the organizational objective in this stage should be to survey the current IoT landscape and identify interest and opportunities throughout the organization. The Explore stage can seem overwhelming for organizations that are new to adopt IoT, but creating a solid business case for why IoT is a value-add, understanding the technical gaps, and knowing who the key players are that will support the effort is crucial to gain traction.

Stage 2: Validate

The second stage is for organizations that are ready to validate both their business case and technical feasibility of a connected product in order to obtain buy-in from organizational stakeholders. The business case is typically validated through a variety of research activities, whereas the technical feasibility of the product concept is proven out as quickly as possible through micro-experiments and the use of low-fidelity demonstrations of connectivity. It is important for organizations in the Validate stage to test their hypothesis with a minimum amount of engineering effort so that the business case for stakeholders is strong enough to justify the IoT investment in order to proceed to the next stage.

Stage 3: Accelerate

Once a product idea has been validated as valuable to the market and technical unknowns have been largely addressed, organizations move into the Accelerate stage, where engineering and development teams off to the races. Organizations in this stage are focusing on the significant resources needed to support connected product development at both the project and organizational level. The technical objectives in this stage should be to align the build, buy, and partner decisions to the company’s core business needs. This is the time to determine who will build it, how to accelerate time-to-market, what processes are needed to support software development, if there are any new roles that need to be added to the organization (e.g., product owner), what services or roles are best provided by a partner, etc. The organizational objective in the Accelerate stage should be to engage stakeholders responsible for the people, processes, and technology to operationalize IoT and reduce risk.

Stage 4: Commercialize 

In the final Commercialize stage, organizations should be focused on ensuring all bases are covered from a logistics and operational perspective before, during, and after the launch. This is the stage where an organization is building a production-level connected product with supporting capabilities for commercialization and subsequent iterations. The project team objective is to get the product into the market quickly and make improvements as needed, and the technical objective here is to maintain the product software over time while addressing changes in market needs. The final stage also includes all of the ongoing commitments to software iterations, enhancements, and support. It is crucial in this last stage for organizations to identify successful practices that would enable repeatable IoT development throughout the organization.

Organizations that successfully transition into the world of connected products have a holistic understanding of the IoT journey and are able to pinpoint where they are in that journey. When incorporated into an organization’s IoT strategy, the IoT Project Lifecycle can be used to identify gaps in knowledge, project plans, or business concepts that might otherwise slow project progress or cripple the project completely. As a result, stakeholders and project teams better understand IoT projects and develop a more balanced approach to IoT that is proven to increase the chances of success. To learn more about the IoT Project Lifecycle, download Exosite’s Understanding the IoT Project Lifecycle white paper.