6 C-level executives you need to get onside for your IoT project

    6 C-level executives you need to get onside for your IoT project

    6 C-level executives you need to get onside for your IoT project
    6 C-level executives you need to get onside for your IoT project

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing business models and processes, making firms more efficient, customer-focused and profitable. With that in mind, IoB has compiled a list of the top executives you need to influence if your IoT project is to become reality – and a success.

    IT management has historically been simple; the CIO would usually dictate the technology strategy and hold the purse strings, and everything would fall under his/her supervision. There would be collaboration with the CISO/CSO, and the CIO would of course be accountable to the CEO and the board.

    IoT, though, changes that because the project is not always driven by the IT department. For example, the CMO may be responsible for projects where IoT strategies are introduced to drive brand recognition or sales. Where firms are looking to improve business efficiency, the project could well sit with the COO or even the CEO.

    As of today there is no one title dominating IoT projects, despite the continual talk surrounding Chief IoT Officers. As a result, the success of IoT projects hinge on multi-department collaboration.

    McKinsey noted in an article last autumn, ‘IoT will challenge traditional organizational roles’ and responsibilities, so ‘chief financial, marketing, and operating officers…will have to be receptive to linking up their systems.’

    So which execs are most important when devising a strategy to get your IoT project off the ground? IoB jumped in to found out.

    Chief Information Officer

    Generally, the most senior person responsible for technology in any business is the Chief Information Officer (CIO). From purchasing IT equipment to directing the workforce on technology usage, CIOs are central to a company’s ICT strategy.

    It’s to little surprise then that the CIO is a key figure with any IoT project.

    At IoB we’ve already seen examples of CIOs leading IoT projects at leading insurers and public sector organizations. There are others that have bigger plans — for instance, Albert van Veen, CIO at Schipol Airport, is using IoT technologies in a bid to make Schipol the ‘best digital airport in the world.’

    Chief Technology Officer

    More often than not the chief technology officer (CTO) will report into the CIO, meaning they act as support for IoT projects. Having said that, in larger organizations the job can be too much for one person, so the CTO is given the responsibility.

    Tesco are using robots to improve inventory management
    Tesco are using robots to improve inventory management

    Edmond Mesrobian, CTO of Tesco, is driving IoT projects at the global retailer in order to understand what matters to his customers. Likewise, Centrica’s CTO Seb Chakraborty — a speaker at our upcoming IoT Build conference — is responsible for Hive, the company’s IoT smart home offering.

    Chief Innovation Officer

    Harvard Business Review has described this role as ‘a powerful executive who can counterbalance the natural killing instinct of a company’s business units and design a more innovation-friendly organizational environment.’

    With the IoT one of the most important technological innovations to emerge in recent years, it is possible that we will see more Chief Innovation Officers involved in strategizing how to successfully deploy IoT solutions to improve the bottom line.

    Chief Operating Officer

    Usually second-in-command, the chief operating officer (COO) has oversight of the business operations in an organization, and the job of creating operations strategy and communicating that with employees.

    Analysts say that the COO must be involved with any IoT project.

    “The COO has to be involved, as they have the responsibility of ‘making it so’ at the business level,” Clive Longbottom, co-founder and analyst at Quocirca, tells Internet of Business.

    Chief Security Officer

    When it comes to IT, security is always listed as one of the top concerns for any business.

    As the main person responsible for an organization’s security program, chief security officers/chief information security officers will need to be consulted before any technology deployment (although this is sadly not always the case – Ed).

    This is particularly important given the dramatic increase in potential security breaches posed by the IoT. That said, Longbottom says that the CSO/CISO will not offer value if they are “a jobsworth who spends 37 hours and 30 minutes per week trying to stop employees from doing their job.”

    Clive Longbottom
    Clive Longbottom

    Chief Marketing Officer

    Since Gartner predicted that the CMO will spend more than the CIO on IT by 2017 we have seen the rise of titles such as chief marketing technologist (CMT).

    American company Kimberly-Clark has a ‘global head of marketing technology’. Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center employs Elisa Padilla as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to deliver one of the most connected stadiums in America.

    This convergence of technology and marketing reflects the need for traditional CMOs to adapt to a digital world, and thus they be involved in any IoT project you are working on.

    …Getting the most out of your IoT project

    Will Cameron, senior communications manager at Vodafone, told IoB about the company’s annual IoT Barometer, which looks at best practice in running successful IoT programs.

    “One of the key highlights from this year’s report was that leaders in the use of IoT see it as a business process purchase rather than an IT one. That means that people involved are the CEO and CFO as well as the COO and the CIO much more than the CMO. For instance, 73 percent of those businesses that consistently see IoT as integral to a wider company initiative report a ‘significant’ ROI,” Cameron said.

    Longbottom believes that “the key is having a small enough group of C-level execs in the first place.” He advocates including up to four C-level executives with the addition of “someone who has overall and complete responsibility for making IoT happen”, but who is not another C-level appointee.

    Every company currently has a different approach to IoT. IBM has appointed Harriet Green as global head of IoT. It’s a global company with the vast resources to do this, but clearly the same could not be said of a fledging start-up or SME.

    Crucially, any IoT deployment must have buy-in from across the entire leadership team and the wider business to maximize its benefits. So consult with all of the above executives, address their concerns, answer their questions, and get their backing to make your project a reality.

    Related: How to get C-level execs to back your Internet of Things project