The internet of things (IoT) is reshaping the way we work and live, but it’s also bound to impact how project managers manage projects.
Simply put, the IoT is a network of devices that use the internet to exchange information. Consider Amazon’s Dash Buttons as a small-scale example. Push your Tide Dash Button, a small device that connects to Wi-Fi, to re-order a new bottle of detergent. More broadly, the IoT is being applied to cities—collecting data to better infrastructure, monitor traffic, and improve waste management—and many other facets of life from cars to homes.
The IoT certainly has a “cool factor” going for it right now. But the IoT also offers practical benefits, as we as new demands, for project managers. What’s in store for you?
If you think collaboration in an IoT world means messaging staffers on Slack, think again.
Interconnectivity is at the heart of the IoT, explains author Maciej Kranz in a Harvard Business Review article. He’s right: nearly 31 billion devices expected to be connected to the internet by 2020. But “interconnectivity” is not just about devices, Kranz says. It’s also about “the connections between customers, partners, and suppliers.”
The “IoT is driving a shift in business structures from a one-company-does-it-all model to a let’s-work-together approach,” Kranz points out. Put another way, the IoT enables you to easily work with people across companies and industries.
Consider this example: “With data analytics provided by Microsoft Azure and an informational infrastructure developed collaboratively by Industrial Scientific and Cisco,” Kranz writes, “operators now have a dashboard to remotely monitor the people, equipment, and air quality in the mine in real time.”
Approach project management with the same mentality: an interconnective one that goes beyond your company walls.
Don’t get too comfortable with your current skills. The influx of IoT breathes new life to the buzzword “lifelong learner.”
The “IoT requires new technical skills, ranging from data science and systems architecture to cybersecurity,” argues Kranz, as well as the “people” skills needed for collaborative work. Understanding technical topics can help you better use and understand the tools and data at your disposal. At the same time, you may find yourself partnering more with people who already have a technical background, such as data analysts, who can help as you navigate your projects.
Get the data you want when you want it. That’s one benefit of the IoT. You’ll have access to more real-time and historical data, more easily. That’s useful when you’re trying to spot trends and plan for future projects.
But, of course, there’s a flip slide: dealing with a deluge of data. You’ll need to become efficient at filtering information: knowing what data you’re after and stopping once you get it. Just because an endless amount of data is accessible, doesn’t mean you need to sort through it all.
The IoT has already brought exciting changes, and project management isn’t exempt. Don’t fear the IoT, but rather embrace how it will enhance the way your work.