How to get CxOs to buy into your IoT project

The IoT (Internet of Things) age is upon us. The media tends to focus on consumer-centric examples like self-driving cars and programmable home thermostats, but IoT’s impact arguably is greater in B2B markets. IoT tools and technologies already are transforming global supply chains, simplifying water management systems, and even optimizing niche industries like oyster farming.

It’s no longer an issue about whether organizations will join the so-called “connected age.” We’re getting to the point where not using IoT is akin to using an abacus to manage payroll. IoT technologies have the potential to boost revenues, boost productivity and improve scalability – and give you that competitive advantage to make your business better.

Few C-levels would argue against the benefits IoT technologies can provide. However, when confronted with a specific IoT proposal, they may balk if you fail to articulate how your project will benefit them.

Therefore, you need to get your Big 5 C-levels – CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, and CISO – to buy into your project. And to do so, you must learn to speak to their pain points and show ways your project will, in fact, benefit them and your company as a whole. Let’s look at this in practice.

The Project

Say you’re a factory manager frustrated by production bottlenecks, and you desperately need to upgrade your M2M (Machine-to-Machine) solution. You’ve found this software-based IoT solution that connects your factory machines to one another using the same standard IP-based Ethernet network as your enterprise systems. Because it connects these machines using standard internet protocols, it’s much easier to extract more data from the machine to find the root cause of those bottlenecks, among other advantages. In short, it would make your job much easier.

Now your task is to show the Big 5 how this IoT solution will make their jobs easier.

Assuring the CISO

Your CISO has a lot to worry about. She must protect your organization’s data from outside threat actors, as well as malicious insiders, and she must be able to quickly detect breaches. Even the thought of connecting production machines to the internet is enough to trigger nightmares.

Acknowledge her concerns, and then point out that the current system’s only security advantage is that it’s on a proprietary network, one that can be breached as easily as a Ukrainian power grid. In contrast, your proposed IoT solution, because it is internet-connected, can be secured by using the same layered security strategies the rest of the network is using. Moreover, she can leverage all that data generated from your machines to detect anomalous behavior quickly to mitigate potential attacks and improve your organization’s overall threat intelligence.

Relieving the CIO

Pity your CIO. He’s burdened by so many responsibilities and lacks the help needed to do much more than put out fires. The last thing he wants to contend with is another cumbersome upgrade of your machine’s systems when the current one seems to work well enough.

At the same time, his job would be much easier if he could migrate your machines to a solution that could scale as the business grows, easily manage internal resources and improve the communication between the company and its third-party suppliers.

So, explain to him that your proposed IoT solution can be deployed quickly without the sort of up-front expenses that a hardware-based system requires. Because it uses the same IP as the company’s IT environment, it’s easier to patch and maintain. And through automation, he no longer has to spend hours trying to find the root cause of a production issue. The data is already there for him to analyze and act on before problems occur, freeing up his team to focus on projects that can generate more value to the business.

Inspiring the CFO

Through your conversations with your CISO and CIO, you already have a better understanding about how your proposed IoT solution can save money. And that should entice your CFO. But you need to take it one step further before you get her on board.

What’s the return on investment? she asks. Give me numbers.

Where to begin? Here is a short list of areas that will see immediate cost savings from your IoT solution:

  • Equipment downtime minimized;
  • Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) improved;
  • Real-time utilization thresholds enable machines to ramp up or lower production as needed;
  • Superior automation capabilities equal less chance of human error.

Your IoT solutions vendor can provide you with numerous examples of cost savings with the data to back them up. If that doesn’t inspire your CFO to get on board, nothing will.

Persuading the COO

Not surprisingly, your COO is most concerned about operations. How can he improve efficiencies and worker productivity? You’ve already proven some of your points in your discussions with your CISO, CIO, and CFO, but if he still seems skeptical, say this one word: paper.

If you’re like most production floors, you’re probably inundated with paper. Physical paper, along with printers and printer ink, takes up valuable space that could be better utilized by machinery. It also costs money. Employees are forced to piece together reams of paper-based documentation to figure out problems, resulting in human error. And frankly, these employees would be more productive if they weren’t required to do things – such as gather data – that machines can do better.

In other words, your IoT solution has the potential to transform your employees from 20th-century industrial cogs to 21st-century knowledge workers who can leverage their intelligence on projects that bring greater value to your business – which is exactly what your COO wants.

Convincing the CEO

Your CEO, of course, is ultimately responsible for your company’s success. If she fails to increase revenues, she’s out of a job. If she doesn’t adapt to new market conditions, she could put your company out of business.

Good CEOs value the input of her other executives and typically will defer to key decision makers from each department. You’ve already convinced the other four, so you’ve already done much of the legwork needed to get to this point.

So, talk to her about the big picture. Gaining a competitive advantage leads to increased revenues, and IoT is tailor-made to bring about that advantage. Go into detail about your proposed solution. Talk about how your solution can optimize the manufacturing process and track high-value assets in a way unimaginable a few years ago. Describe how your solution functions as an end-to-end platform, managing multiple vendors and internal resources while providing out-of-the-box integrations with machines, networks, and applications.

Of course, your ultimate success with your Big 5 C-levels will in part depend on the IoT solution you choose. So, before you start your IoT crusade, make sure you choose a solution that can deliver on your promises.

 

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