Learn and avoid the following mistakes when starting a project with your customer.
1. Everyone loves to play, loves the gadgetry and the endless opportunities. Don’t show off and propose immediate PoC…it is very tempting but deadly. Do the detailed discovery (or at least qualification) and agree on the overall business before the PoC. PoC is there just to confirm assumptions and close the deal.
2. Don’t take the maximum possible deployment as the basis of your opportunity qualification (number of dust bins, number of trees, number of parcels). Better ask for the project budget for this year and the next year and ask what minimal deployment makes sense from the business perspective. The quantity that will be on the first order just after the pilot.
3. Remember there is a long way from the middle management to the board. It is not enough that just one person at the customer’s side is convinced. The board has very little time for IoT projects. And they don’t tend to be progressive and tech-savvy. Ask for a general IoT educative workshop with the board or owners with live presentations. They mostly love it.
4. Don’t count on the customer to be proactive. IoT is not part of their core business. IoT is mostly something nice to have but not critical and number 67 on their IT project list. You need to chase them each week, agree on next steps and milestones. But don’t worry, it used to be precisely the same in the beginning of the Internet as well as in the beginning of cloud computing.
5. Remember someone needs to do the real field PoC/integration physical work. Discovery gives you a pretty good scope of the project. Define early and clearly who is going to do and deliver what, at which price and how the partners will get involved and paid even before the PoC starts. Don’t be shy to ask money for PoC.
6. Don’t pretend to know everything. If in doubts how to do things, ask in forums or partners. Study the 52 use cases where with very limited number of sensors you can do plenty of easy sales. And don’t concentrate on HW or connectivity price. Remember device cost in most cases is only about 15 percent of the overall TCO.
7. Don’t be in listening mode only. Ask, ask, ask. Don’t be timid. Challenge the customer and their current business model. IoT very often challenges the existing business models (use the Internet example). Try to find a way how to evolve the customer’s business model.
Get as much business information as possible. Ask why? Why now? Why this technology and not something else? Try to be a real expert in the IoT field.