As investors in a multitude of cloud and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way from some highly impressive entrepreneurs. The teams behind the businesses we work with are very diverse, and yet they share some core skills and approaches.
Here, then, are the skills we think you need to bring together in order to run a successful IoT business.
The IoT is, after all, built on connectivity. Whichever industry you are operating in, whether your IoT offering is aimed at businesses on consumers, whether you are in the hardware or software business – connectivity will still need to be a core specialism. This means that your business needs experts in network design and management, and a broad understanding of networking protocols, standards and technologies.
Not every IoT business involves hardware. Some are focused on the software and analytics engines which analyse data collected by the IoT. Nevertheless, even these businesses need to have half an eye on hardware, since the data they rely on is generated and transmitted by physical, connected ‘things’. And of course, many IoT businesses product those physical things in the first place. This means that a solid understanding of hardware development, incorporating electrical engineering, industrial design and manufacturing, is essential for the success of IoT businesses.
All too often, security is added on at the end of the IoT product development cycle, rather than ‘baked in’ all the way through. In today’s landscape of sophisticated cyber criminals and complex regulatory requirements in terms of data security, the latter is the only way to go. Don’t forget that IoT security involves protecting data actually on connected devices, in transit between them, and in the applications and platforms analysing that data, so there are a lot of different security specialisms to think about.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
The IoT might be built on connectivity, but the value that it delivers is all about data. An IoT system or product might collect information from a previously untapped source, or simply enable that source to be viewed more clearly and more regularly than before. It might combine several different datasets to deliver deeper intelligence into how certain processes work. All these possibilities are driven by data
In turn, this means that skills in collecting, processing and making sense of information are critical to the success of IoT businesses. From there, those businesses need to be able to take that data one step further and feed it back into existing processes in order to drive improvements. This means that expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence is likely to go a long way in positioning IoT businesses strategically for the future.
This is the core skill that we think brings it all together. The IoT landscape is notoriously fast-moving, with countless businesses attempting to bring new products and platforms to market, or introduce IoT ecosystems as part of their own existing operations. As such, having the ability to jump from project to project while retaining a clear overall strategy, and having the capability to respond rapidly to wider changes in the industry, from new technological development to new security threats, is essential.