Working with the IoT...from cocktails to tears

smithIt’s exciting when that thing you’re connecting to the Internet sends its first “Hello world!” message, isn’t it?

Product launches and celebratory drinks can be lots of fun. Then comes the first real-world installation, along with the occasional bout of tears.

In my experience, there is little that can prepare you for a flummoxing nest of data cables, or the on-site client resources who have no idea what they should be doing with you. But I have been through this process a few times—I’ve poured the cocktails and shed the tears—and I can share with you some lessons learned…

1. Use a Haddon Matrix for planning. This easy-to-use tool ensures that if something does go wrong, at least it’s not something obvious.

2. Now, this may seem self-evident, but I will go ahead and say it anyway: Make your first product installation close to home. When you have to go back to the client directly after installation (and you will) it is less of a logistic hurdle if the client is nearby.

3. Unplanned things will occur. Remember, you are rolling out software AND hardware. Unlike a laptop, the brains and the processor are in two different places. Your future self will thank you for taking a back-up of critical hardware. And make sure you have spoken with all parties in the chain. (People can be touchy when they don’t know who you are and you’re asking for access to their data room.)

4. Link IT and on-site operations. Get communications to your cloud established before rolling out a sizable deployment. Once I had a system fully installed and ready to go, but had to wait three weeks for the IT resource (the only person who could adjust the firewall) to return from his vacation in Sweden.