How to Work Failure Into Your IoT Project Planning

The Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding in terms of innovation and product delivery right now, and it is estimated there will be more than 50 billion IoT devices in use just three years from now. Companies are scrambling to jump on board the IoT train, greenlighting new projects right and left. However, IoT is still young. There is a lot that isn’t known, there are possibilities that haven’t even been thought of yet and there is considerable room for failure.  While it is always admirable to have faith that your tech innovators will succeed, the reality is failure is almost inevitable in new tech innovations, and it is critical to work failure into every IoT project plan.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

Eight out of ten IoT projects fail before they are ever launched, according to Gartner research. This failure rate isn’t due to a lack of talent or a lack of resources, it’s due to a lack of planning. Many companies get lured in by “shiny objects” in technology. When something new and exciting comes along, they launch a project just for the sake of being involved. Jumping into IoT just for IoT’s sake is a recipe for failure. Successful IoT projects are only launched when project leaders can define a clear business case for delivering a benefit.

Most companies don’t launch new products or services or invest in new machinery without conducting a cost-benefit analysis. They only make investments when and where it makes sense. But with some tech projects like IoT, that logic goes out the window. If you want your IoT project to have a prayer of succeeding, it must have clearly defined goals.

Planning for Success Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Even if the company has defined a business case for IoT, it does not guarantee the project will ultimately be successful. Every IoT project plan must include the possibility of failure. Tech companies understand that many projects fail and they account for that failure with, “skunkworks,” projects or teams that are given free rein to innovate, with the full understanding that there will be a fair share of duds.

Non-tech companies or companies on a tight budget often do not have the risk tolerance for “skunkworks,” but if innovation is a core company value, things need to change. IoT teams need to be given some leeway to try new things and experiment without the fear their project will be completely shut down if they fail.

Tech leaders need to build failures into the project budget and timeline from the outset, and they must be able to justify that expense to the rest of the executive team through the benefit of the end result. If the project ultimately succeeds, the return should be greater than the losses to failures. Many non-technical leaders will have difficulty wrapping their heads around the idea of “failure planning,” but applying logic and numbers can often help overcome those objections.

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