Use Design Thinking to explore IoT project opportunities

The Internet of Things (IoT) market has skyrocketed in the past few years. It now underpins most of the economic and social activity due to the massive volumes of data that must be stored, managed, interpreted and shared in ways that add value to businesses and society.

Market analysis predicts that by 2020, $267B will be spent on IoT technologies, products, and services. Such growth is driving many companies to enter the market hoping to consolidate their name in an increasingly populated and disruptive space.

How does the Internet of Things help business?

In a VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous – these tendencies are a bit more pronounced, with the speed of disruption exceeding anything seen before. As Professor Peter Vogel highlights in his article Building an intrapreneurial organization, "[d]espite significant market dominance and availability of resources, established businesses are increasingly uncertain about the future and struggle to adjust to this new reality. As a result, many have missed out on new growth opportunities because of their inability to match the speed of execution of new entrants".

There is a need to anticipate change in order to ride the wave of innovation. By using elements from the designer's toolkit, a Design Thinking approach to the development of IoT projects allows you to experiment with the different hypotheses and obtain innovative and user-focused solutions since you will be relying on more than historical data or gut-feeling to make your decisions.

One of the main features of the Design Thinking process is the deep-dive and exploration of a user's problem. Therefore, providing the Internet of Things solutions means establishing a user-centric approach: What are their needs? Their challenges? Their main interests? What are their likes and dislikes? The core outcome and strength of this process is the exploration of the problem from the customer/user point of view. Additionally, you will be immersed in several problem-solving scenarios that can influence the initial problem understanding.

How to apply Design Thinking to develop your IoT projects?

There are 5 stages for you to keep in mind when developing and implementing an IoT project:

  1. Define your design challenge (e.g. What Internet of Things-related problem you will be solving)
  2. Understand the system architecture of IoT as well as the components of an IoT platform (e.g. What data are you planning to collect and exploit via which sensors/data).
  3. Explore the potential of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (e.g. How are you using data to make predictions?)
  4. Working on your digital solution compass (e.g. Viability, desirability, feasibility)
  5. From Ideation to pretotype and test (e.g. Pretotyping VS solution development)

The Ideate phase consists of generating as many ideas as possible to solve your challenge. Only the best ideas are then selected to pretotype and the latter is a working construct to share with others for feedback. This input will afterward be used to make the product or service and thus ensuring your IoT project comes to fruition.

Get started with the Internet of Things

By applying Design Thinking to IoT, you can effectively implement innovation to solve the challenges of IoT-related products and services. Design Thinking will help you create, develop, test, fail or succeed faster, thus ensuring you deliver the right IoT solution and strengthen your ROI.

The truth is, you don’t need to be a technical person to understand how the Internet of Things works and how it can help your business. The IMD Business School in Switzerland offers an online course on the Internet of Things for Business Executives that you can attend alone or as a team. If you get a grip on the IoT fundamentals, you can start developing new strategies for IoT solutions today. 

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