IoT Agenda

May 22 2019   4:28PM GMT

Is R&D a cure or poison for the skeptical IoT market?

Francisco Maroto Francisco Maroto Profile: Francisco Maroto

Tags:
Digital strategy
Industrial IoT
Internet of Things
iot
IoT strategy
R/D

Considering IoT is in its infancy — and due to past years of wasted in predictions that have not been fulfilled, as well as disappointing statistics of successful projects and the fact that most companies don’t have clear strategies — it’s normal to think that R&D is necessary to boost and accelerate the increasingly skeptical IoT market.

R&D should be an essential part of bringing innovation to any company via IoT projects. And though we can all agree how important R&D is, it requires a great deal of experience, senior experts and specific tool sets — resources that not every company has handy.

However, there is a risk when deriving strategic decisions that executive directors consider to be technological toward R&D departments. Many times, oblivious to the reality of the markets, those responsible for R&D develop products and technologies for problems that do not exist just to obtain recognition or continue living without pressure from top management. Many subsidies are granted by unqualified administrations that don’t understand the utility, the business model, the business case and the commercialization of innovations R&D wants to develop.

Now, if we ask sellers of IoT technology, products and services, they may not be happy with the idea of having to talk with R&D areas instead of with other areas of the company more likely to buy. Most times, R&D departments decide to do it themselves. Vendors know that with great probability they will not close deals due to lack of budget or low visibility by the rest of the departments in the company.

The importance of R&D for IoT

Innovation in IoT is a major competitive differentiator:

  • IoT-focused companies need to invest in R&D to keep up with the rapidly changing and expanding market. It is important that an organization’s R&D iteration turnaround times are quick, otherwise the company is not going to be able to keep pace with market growth. However, it’s not enough to simply speed up R&D — innovative IoT firms, both startups and established companies, must also make sure their R&D processes are extremely reliable.
  • You can’t solve R&D speed issues just by increasing budget.
  • Executives must maintain strong, steady communication with R&D regarding the department’s priorities over a particular timeframe and how progress will be measured.
  • Guidelines are invaluable. The more structured and streamlined R&D procedures are, the better IoT companies will be able to move from conception to delivery.
  • Design innovative IoT products, but accelerate time to market.
  • Encourage internal collaboration. R&D team should share real-time data across internal departments to spur intelligent product design.
  • Also encourage external collaboration. Connect with customers and partners to ensure success.
  • Drive overall business value with IoT through differentiation.

IoT project R&D: To outsource or not to outsource?

Just like any other technology, IoT products require thorough research and development, and it better be done by professionals. Despite the noise generated by analysts and companies around IoT, the reality is that there have not been many IoT projects, and therefore it is not easy to find good professionals with proven experience in IoT to hire.

When I think of outsourcing IoT projects, eastern European and Indian companies immediately come to mind, no doubt because the R&D talent seems to be cheaper there. Spain could also be a country to outsource IoT, but at the moment I do not see it.

The benefits of outsourcing R&D for IoT projects include:

  • Expertise and an eye for innovation;
  • Bringing an IoT project to market faster;
  • Optimizing costs; and
  • Controlling and managing risks.

I am not sure about the quality of R&D companies or the experience of their staff, but there is no doubt that there are benefits to outsourcing R&D for IoT. Select an R&D company only after careful evaluation.

Spain is not different in R&D for IoT

I have not believed in R&D in Spain for years. There are exceptions without a doubt, but it seems evident that the prosperity and welfare of Spain is not due to its R&D.

With the entry into the EU, I thought Spain had great markets open to it. I was also optimistic that it would have great opportunities in the Latin American markets thanks to the fact that its R&D capacity could have been consolidated effectively in the country’s companies and universities because it would be profitable and worldwide recognized.

But it has not been that way. The technology developed in Spain, and more specifically that relating to IoT, has little chance of being commercialized in France, Germany and the UK. Add the development gap of South American countries and the fact that local markets are averse to technological risk and it is difficult to for IoT R&D to flourish in Spain.

That does not mean that we do not have public R&D budgets for these areas. The same thing that happened during the last 30 years has happened again: The incentives and aids are few, and for the most part used to finance large companies with little return to society. There is no rigorous control of the aid granted and, above all, there is no plan to encourage local and global marketing of products developed with the talent of Spain’s scientists and researchers.

I have stopped believing and trusting in governments to achieve change in R&D, but there are exceptions that are worthwhile to follow and work with them. For this reason, I continue help them demonstrate that Spain can be different.

Key takeaways

After years of unfulfilled expectations, companies are skeptical of the potential growth of the IoT market or the benefits of their business. R&D department can be a cure to boost IoT initiatives, but also a poison to kill IoT initiatives.

IoT may have started in R&D, but its benefits don’t have to end there. To drive overall business value, it’s important to share IoT data — both internally and externally. Facilitating open collaboration, discovering new ways to innovate products and accelerating time to market, you can differentiate R&D and your business.

As fast turnaround times and reliability become a focal part of companies’ R&D processes, these companies will be well-positioned to thrive within the IoT market.

Thanks for your likes and comments.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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