Who will run your organization’s IoT efforts?

By: Phil Simon| - Leave a comment


For decades now, CIOs have argued with their brethren about whether IT should “own” enterprise data. For many years now, the IT-Business Divide has served as a major bone of contention in most large, mature organizations, something that I’ve seen firsthand in my consulting days. Given the extent of these testy historical arguments, it’s fair to ask two questions with respect to future organizations Internet of Things‘ (IoT) efforts:

  • Should IT run—be responsible for—these types of projects?
  • Will IT run these types of projects and “own” IoT-related data?

Let’s address the normative question first. On more than a few occasions in my career, I’ve seen both sides of the IT-Business Divide play out. (Consultants are often placed in the middle of thorny situations.) I’ve seen project managers excoriate CIOs and their minions over data-quality issues from prior centuries. This was the very definition of killing the messenger.

I certainly could appreciate each side’s perspective, but I’ve never believed that IT should assume responsibility for business data. The reason is simple: IT employees rarely if ever create data issues. Rather the HR or AP clerk did by fat-fingering a form or invoice or carelessly running an update or purge program. IT was merely presenting the data as it was currently stored in a database. What’s more, IT could never provide “the answer” to a business-related problem.

Nothing that I’ve learned about the IoT makes me view it any differently. HR should be responsible for HR data. Ditto for sales, marketing, finance, and the like.

IT’s Role in the IoT

Now let’s address the second query. While we’re still in the early innings of the (IoT), it’s looking like the answer to the second query will be no. That is, they are not “assigning” the IoT to their IT departments.

As Bob O’Donnell writes on Recode, “You can’t just assume that IT will be paying for all the new sensors, gateways, networking equipment, [and] analytics hardware and software.” In a prior post, he supports his assertion with some data (always a good idea):

You may be thinking that the average marketing, sales, or operations exec doesn’t possess the technical know-how to handle complex connectivity, networking, sensor, and data issues. Fair enough, but remember that never before have these employees had access to such a variety of on-demand and robust third-party services. Put differently, IT need not be involved in each and every technology-related decision.

Simon Says

Beyond the increasing ease with which organizations can deploy new services and connect new devices, let’s not forget the elephant in the room. IT departments still have their hands full with traditional responsibilities, not to mention a growing array of security threats. I can’t think of too many IT folks sitting around with nothing to do.



About The Author

Phil Simon

Professor at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business

Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker and recognized technology authority. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. He consults organizations on matters related to communications, strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured on The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Fox News, and many other sites. He also teaches system design, analytics, and business intelligence at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

Articles by Phil Simon
See All Posts