Assuming that the leadership of your organization has decided that connecting your product to the Internet (the Internet of Things) is a big part of its future, it’s important to make some strategic decisions very early in the process. Making them in the right order is pretty important too.

The planning process is by far the most element of the whole initiative. Bad planning will lead to a domino cascade of problems that will ultimately cost money, jobs and maybe the future of the company. Strategic business planning will direct how your company will use insights extracted from your data to improve the business in the future, and is obviously a key step. Planning the architecture of how that data will be collected is probably more important because if it’s not done properly any strategic planning will have been damaged and the goals set by the company will be at best set back considerably.

Start by deciding what the goals of the business are. Do you want to find ways to increase profit margins, or to improve customer relationships, improve your supply chain or perhaps improve product performance? Follow up that exercise by connecting those goals with the process by asking questions such as: “What data do we need in order to do X?” and “What resources do we have available to us?”

Never try to formulate answers to any of these goals or questions in a vacuum. Organize a team of people from multiple departments within the organization. Perhaps involve people from outside the organization too, such as your customers and strategic vendors. Talk about what others are doing with IoT, read what others have written about it, and brainstorm. The marketing people will have a vastly different view of what to do with the data than the engineering team or you customers, and it might be a great learning experience for everyone involved.

Every company we talk to is planning to get involved in the Internet of things in some way, shape or form. Very few are actually there yet, or even close. At some point they will identify some of the benefits of analytics, choose a database and analytics package and integrate IoT into the business. All of this will happen at some yet to be defined point in the future. Make a start now, today, and not tomorrow or the next day. As the old adage goes: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”

Finding the budget for anything new is a challenge, but the team is sure to come up with ways that IoT will impact the bottom line by creating new relationships with customers, new services for partners or perhaps creative ways to change the company image.

Start collecting as much data as possible as soon as possible. It’s never too soon, and there’s rarely too much. The sooner the process is begun, the sooner your company can join the ranks of companies leveraging their IoT data – ideally before your competitors do.