As LinkedIn has reminded me and my connections, this month we celebrate our third birthday. It had me reminiscing about the journey – the highs, the lows and everything in between. Without self-indulging too much, I want to share a short story of that journey and some key lessons which I think you may find valuable.
The bumps and swerves in the road have developed us all personally and professionally and, without doubt, helped us deliver better solutions and outcomes for our clients. Every cloud, as they say…
Just over three years ago, my business partner (Neal) and I were at a Sigfox conference in Miami. We were working in the world of LPWAN (low powered wide area networks) and had extensive experience delivering client projects.
After the conference, we took an extra couple of days to explore the area and, as we were driving south in a hired Mustang, roof down, shades on and elbows resting on the car doors (cliché I know!), we embarked upon one of the most interesting and, as it turns out, life-saving (yes, I mean life-saving) conversations we’d ever had.
We both loved what we did and were truly excited by the potential IoT offered but, at the same time frustrated by society’s lethargic adoption of the opportunities it presented.
As we cruised towards Key West that Friday afternoon we pondered why and what could be done about it…eventually arriving at the conclusion that we were the ones to solve the lack of adoption crisis that existed.
In summary we saw three vital factors:
1. There were no ubiquitous networks that could be used for large roll-out IoT projects
2. IoT was not understood by those that needed to understand
3. The cost of deployment was far too high for any organisation to roll out at scale, because they had to deal with multiple hardware, software, connectivity and network partners to make anything work. Everyone adding margin and making integration difficult
Point one was not in our power to solve, though we had the contacts and the knowledge to investigate and influence. Points two and three however – now, we could do something about those!
We decided there and then, with the wind in our hair, to do something about it.
The next leg of the journey
Without going through every decision that we made, suffice to say that through much forensic analysis and research we arrived at a business model and solution set that we felt would address these issues and respond to significant societal challenges in a meaningful way.
Based on our research, discussions and pilots, we produced a plan based on volume across specific solutions. A clear roadmap involved promotion and deployment on, what we thought was, a realistic timeline. The market was there, the appetite existed and we’d opened many doors.
Pedal to the metal and we’ll be on the beach sipping mojitos before we know it.
Dealing with curve balls
No-one in the world has been unaffected by Covid in one way or another and its fair to say that our business has felt the impact.
We lost potential business, as budgets were reassessed and diverted, some projects were postponed and yet, new opportunities arose.
The greatest new opportunity for us to make a difference was around the drive towards technology in the field of adult social care.
I won’t go into the detail, but you can find more information about that in other articles we’ve published. We also discovered an increased demand for compliance solutions and more openness for innovation…because traditional methods presented fresh challenges in a Covid era.
New relationships were formed, new applications for existing solutions were uncovered and lives were saved. If you read this short article you can find out how.
Over the last three years I can honestly say that a day hasn’t gone by without me learning something new and I strongly believe that the lessons have helped us deliver better for our clients, our team and society.
If we with our, now expanded, team were sitting in a slightly larger vehicle, cruising towards the Floridian coast once more and mulling over the key lessons, I think they would be as follows:
1 – Agility with principle. If we had not been able to pivot our focus and resource then IoT Solutions Group would have died. No question. As an organisation, we stayed true to our core principles of providing end to end IoT solutions that minimise costs and provide valuable, actionable insights, but we shifted the focus to what was needed. Instead of continuing down our pre-determined roll-outs, we responded to what our clients needed. We had alternative solutions on ice, we just had to move them up the pecking order as we learnt where priorities lay and where change was needed.
2 – Listening is everything. Linked to the first lesson, customer intimacy is crucial to any organisation operating in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world…that’s all of us then! As it became clear that plan A was not going to see us through, we spent time really getting to understand what our clients now needed in the face of fresh challenges. Steaming ahead with plan A would have been like talking to a brick wall (we have solutions for that by the way!). By working closely with local authorities and private sector organisations; questioning them and truly understanding their reality, we were able to demonstrate that our founding principles allowed us to deliver true value to them and help them not only achieve financial savings but make a difference to the lives of individuals, longevity of business and society at large.
3 – Tech for good. One of our organisational values is Tech For Good and this isn’t just a tick box. It guides what we do and who we do it for. We set out three years ago to make a positive difference to people, business and society, spurred on by the inaction to that point. During that time, I have been reassured day after day that tech can be for good. We can make a true difference if we work together to de-mystify what is available to us, demonstrate how technology helps us make better decisions and debunk the myths that are propagated across some media outlets.
Councils, business and individuals need to work together to uncover those opportunities, translate code into meaningful benefits and remove the barriers that prevent society progressing as fast as is possible.
The lessons learned are great and the journey over the last three years has been amazing but the future…the next leg of the journey towards the Miami sunset, promises so much more for everyone we work with, because of all that has come before.