Many product developers are understandably excited by the possibilities of the Internet of Things (IoT). The opportunities it offers for innovation and creativity are enormous.
But like any development project, an IoT proposal needs buy-in from the senior management team if it is to progress – and if it is to have the best chances of success. So how can developers best pitch an IoT project to the executives in their organisation – and maintain that buy-in throughout the project?
Developing your pitch
The key element in any pitch – whether internal or external – is always ROI. What benefits is your IoT project aiming to deliver? How will those benefits translate into increased revenue for your business?
How this aspect of the pitch looks will obviously vary depending on the type of IoT or service you are developing. You might be proposing to develop a new product line, in which case you will need to demonstrate the strong market for that product. You might be proposing a way in which you can use IoT technology to automate operations in an area of your business, in which case you will need to show how that automation will translate into reduced costs. You might be seeking to use an IoT ecosystem to capture previously untapped data and generate new business insights, in which case you will need to show how that intelligence could be harnessed.
The point is, the projected ROI should be front and centre of your pitch, demonstrating how your IoT project will deliver tangible business value – and, crucially, how you will measure that value at the end of the project.
However, a focus on benefits should also be countered with an awareness of potential project risks and how you plan to control them. This is how you can show executives that the project is well-rounded and well thought-out – and it deals with their objections before they have to raise them.
Delivering your pitch
Here, it is best to think practically. The optimal time for delivering a pitch will again vary from organisation to organisation; perhaps your company has a regular fixed slot for presenting new proposals, or perhaps you need to set up a one-off meeting.
Regardless, the most effective pitches often focus on showing rather than telling. Tech demos and visual illustrations are generally highly effective ways of capturing senior executives’ imagination and really bringing your ides to life, particularly when said executives may not be technically-minded themselves. As above, ensure that you foreground the potential ROI of your project, and discuss risks and your plans for alleviating them before your audience does.
Maintaining your pitch
An often-neglected but nevertheless critical aspect of securing executive buy-in for a development project is the process of keeping those executives informed and engaged whilst the project progresses. Keeping your head down for weeks or months on end whilst you tweak and refine the project might be tempting, but it is a sure-fire way of losing executive interest, or even sparking frustration and inspiring them to pull the plug.
The moment an IoT project is approved to go ahead, ensure that you set up a clear process and schedule for keeping the senior team informed of your progress, with a predicted timeline in place (and a commitment to informing them immediately should those timings slip). Progress updates should be celebratory as well as advisory, demonstrating innovations as you go along. Keep the enthusiasm levels high and buy-in will be be maintained too.