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How to build organizational IoT competence

SAN JOSE, Calif.– Mark Benson, CTO of Exosite, gave a keynote address titled “The Organizational Psychology of the Internet of Things: How to Use Technology to Drive Behavioral Change” at the 2017 Sensors Expo and Conference this week. His presentation centered on how smart, connected devices are shaping market trends and competition. Benson noted the challenges facing businesses taking on internet of things (IoT) projects, including building competent departments focused on IoT projects for the long-term.

Benson was one of thousands of sensor technology professionals to participate in this year’s conference. Tech enthusiasts from across the nation and 40-plus countries attend the event each year to find sensors to integrate into their technologies, network with industry insiders and learn about the latest sensing trends.

Trends in the IoT market

Benson began by explaining how the IoT is shaping the market. The internet is no longer just about connecting people — it’s about connecting things. Approximately 20 billion IoT devices will be in service by 2020 with 50% of new business products and services having IoT elements. All this in the round, how are organizations responding?

Not well, Benson said. Among all the thoughts keeping CEOs up at night, staying up to speed with technology reigns supreme. Some of the biggest challenges people face in the IoT realm include a lack of executive sponsorship; organizational misalignment; low cross department collaboration; culture that is slow to adopt change; and inconsistent market feedback.

“Getting an IoT product market ready is tough; organizational change and alignment is tougher,” Benson said.

The competence learning model

Organizational competence in the nuanced internet of things isn’t something that happens overnight, Benson said. Rather, it is a process consisting of four phases, including an unconscious incompetence phase, a conscious incompetence phase, a conscious competence phase and an unconscious competence phase.

Unconscious incompetence involves being blissfully unaware of one’s own incompetence; conscious incompetence involves acknowledging one’s incompetence; conscious competence involves acquiring competency through concerted effort; and unconscious competence involves a competence that becomes second nature, such as riding a bike. From an organizational perspective, the biggest challenge of this process in transitioning from one phase to the next, Benson said.

Five practices that build organizational IoT competence

Benson highlighted five main practices successful companies adopt that build organizational competence including:

  1. Having a baseline current in IoT competence in the areas of digital innovation, technology maturity, businesses clarity and market readiness.
  2. Developing and communicating a clear, compelling actionable IoT strategy across the organization that includes executive support, funding from the top and a mandate for cross-department collaboration.
  3. Starting small with early wins targeted at reducing business risk while addressing pressing questions early.
  4. Looking for opportunities to standardize and reuse common components across divisions and projects.
  5. Closing the knowledge gap by building the organization from the outside in. Starting with external help and simultaneously, developing and growing core IoT competencies over time.

Benson concluded by emphasizing the way organizations respond to the internet of things trend will define their success for the coming decades.

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