Need an IoT Strategy? How about: “Start Small, Think Big, Go Fast”?


Mariner has been developing IoT solutions for manufacturing and field service customers for over 4 years. It’s been an interesting time. We’ve gone from a time when “Internet of Things” was a foreign term not known by many to become one of the most talked about topics on the Internet. It’s not surprising given that Industry 4.0, Smart Factory and other digital transformation programs offer such dramatic benefit to those who master it. More and more companies, drawn to the promise of dramatic returns, have started developing strategies and plans to implement IoT. So what’s the catch?

For most, IoT is still a daunting effort fraught with risk.  A recent Cisco survey shows that 75% of projects are failing. Despite this, organizations continue to invest in IoT because the benefits are so substantial.  For example, despite the low success rate, 73 percent of the Cisco survey respondents indicate that they are using their IoT data to improve business performance. McKinsey reports in their white paper entitled, “Industry 4.0 after the initial hype Where manufacturers are finding value and how they can best capture it” that manufacturers can increase OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by 20% – 50% “by increasing engagement of front-line operators and management around data.” That represents a dramatic cost reduction.

The bottom line: IoT is risky, but worth the effort. The question is: How to harness the value of IoT and avoid the risks? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Get assistance from someone that has done it before. Every company has capability gaps that reduce the probability of success. If you’re embarking on your first IoT project, being guided towards IoT success with a partner can be the best money you will spend. Yes, I know you probably want to do it yourself. How about I meet you half way? Get that first project under your belt with the assistance of an experienced IoT consulting firm. Let that project be the pattern or platform for all future projects. If you choose to go down this path, ask the consulting firm about their successes, but also ask about those projects that were less than successful. We have learned volumes from those few projects that did not advance beyond the proof-of-concept phase. Risk management is vitally important. Mariner’s mantra is “bad news early is good news”.  After all, that’s why we DO proofs-of-concept. But the really important advice is: If a proof-of-concept fails, don’t quit trying. Study the reasons for the failure and find another project. Start small, thing big, go fast.
  2. Choose a project that balances risk & reward. We have a customer who provides industrial equipment and solutions to process manufacturers. Their first IoT project monitors one (substantial) product installed in one (substantial) customer. But they made a larger investment by making sure that the solution is scalable and flexible enough to support any product and any customer in their portfolio. Instead of building a one-off solution, they’ve built their connected product platform. They are implementing the strategy I mention in the title. They started small, they are thinking big and they are going fast.
  3. Use an architecture that supports starting small: Microsoft has a scalable, secure, available, comprehensive platform for deploying IoT solutions called Azure IoT Suite. To this platform-as-a-service architecture, to which Mariner adds two products which I am proud to announce in this blog post: Mariner’s Spyglass Suites, a software as a service pair of product suites that addresses ways companies can save money with connected smart factories and the ways companies can make money with connected smart products.
  • Spyglass Connected Factory Suite was developed to support the progression of capabilities that drive cost savings on the shop floor. Spyglass permits customer to:
    • Apply IoT to remote monitoring for exceeding device measurement threshold
    • Improve operational efficiency (OEE)
    • Reduce unplanned downtime by predicting component failure
    • Improve quality & performance
  • Spyglass Connected Product Suite was developed to support the progression of capabilities to provide discrete manufacturers and field service/maintenance repair organizations to create new revenue streams or enhance existing ones by:
    • Servitization of products to create new recurring revenue streams
    • Providing “equipment as a service” revenue streams
    • Maintaining closer relationships with customers
    • Improving customer acquisition and retention rates
    • Streamlining field service workflow and automate service decisions
    • Improving product design (insight into actual usage and capture real usage data)

I am very excited about our Spyglass Suite of products. Built upon Azure IoT Suite and priced disruptively, Spyglass will permit Mariner’s customers to start small, think big, go fast. It will prove a greater certainty of success, accelerate time to market and provide digital transformation to our customers.

I’ll be publishing more information on Spyglass next week. Keep an eye out. In the meantime, here’s a an illustration of the two Spyglass Suites.

Phil Morris
There's nothing Phil enjoys more than helping customers create game-changing solutions to their business problems. He's especially enthusiastic about developing digital business programs that converge business strategy with digital technology to improve customer experience, optimize business operations and develop new business models. Phil is happiest when he's meeting with customers, listening to their stories and digging in and helping. Phil oversees the strategy, business development and finance departments at Mariner, staying focused on new trends in business and technology. Away from the office, he enjoys spending time with his wife, kids and grand kids, crafting award-winning beer and playing guitar in a blues band.
Phil Morris

One thought on “Need an IoT Strategy? How about: “Start Small, Think Big, Go Fast”?

  1. Great post Phil, and it’s good to see Mariner focusing on IoT. Will one of your future posts or products deal with device management. We take the view that IoT is actually operating a multi-cloud where any intelligent device is in itself a cloud. Or call the collection of devices “the fog” if you like that term. But being able to manage, update, push apps and collect data from those intelligent devices to support a new and diverse set of energy services to our customers is our goal. -Charlie Ward/Duke Energy

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