A good friend of mine is one of the principals at Blue Line Technology, an up-and-coming St. Louis company focused on leveraging facial recognition technology in security solutions. As you can imagine, they have some pretty interesting stories to tell.
Last week, while I was providing this friend with another lesson on how to master the links, he was sharing with me the many (dozens) different pilot projects they had with an equal number of good applications – almost all of them unique. Our conversation quickly turned to a great many ideas for a solution, but the challenge of adopting that idea into a viable business solution.
That conversation over golf made me think of my early discussions with Entigral Systems. When HL Group decided to RFID-enable our solutions, we looked for a complementary partner with products, expertise, and organization and found that combination in Entigral. They brought a proven RFID capability along with everything else you need to deliver complete success for the customer.
I had been acquainted with one of the principals for a number of years before, which enabled us to have direct and trustworthy communications. During those early partnership discussions, I asked how they were making RFID a successful business solution. RFID, while an impressive technology, had been on the market for almost 10 years but had little adoption. The response actually surprised me a little. They said that their best prospects were folks who had previously “failed” in piloting an RFID solution.
So what does it take to move a great idea or technology into a successful, productive solution? Even those that seem to present the most obvious return can have a hard time going from concept to production.
We’ve also run into this at HL Group with our mobilePLUS solution. Ours is a solution that provides a very strong ROI – but limits to implementation can sometimes prevent it from achieving its full potential return.
A typical customer we work with has hundreds of millions to multiple billions of dollars of fixed asset inventory to audit/manage/maintain/insure/etc. Implementing a mobilePLUS solution may only require an investment of $.01/$100 value of assets annually. When you consider the cost of replacement and insurance of missing assets – not to mention the resources spent just trying to track them – an extremely positive payback becomes obvious. But even given that information, there is sometimes a challenge of implementing a mobilePLUS solution and moving it forward to harvest its full success.
Going from Pilot to Production
We’ve found that there are three things that you truly need to move an initiative from the pilot stage to full production use: Defined Goals, a Measurable Plan, and the right Resources.
This seems obvious – but you’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) how many efforts are started without a clear goal (or goals) in mind. So ask yourself – what does a successful pilot mean? Is it a full-blown solution for your business? Are trying to prove something will/will not work in a vacuum? What are you trying to accomplish?
When you decide to undertake a pilot, make sure that one of the first steps that you take is to clearly identify the goal of the effort. Like most things in life – there really needs to be a strong WHY.
Once you know what your destination is – how do you plan to get there? This is frequently where the Pilot to Production process breaks down. Many teams may start out with a vision of what they believe they could achieve – but they didn’t have a plan to truly get there.
This is where Entigral turns those failed pilots into successful business solutions. They saw that what those RFID pilots were lacking was a clear set of business goals and measurements. Once the goals were clearly defined, they stepped in with an effective, measurable plan that enabled the client to adopt the pilot-proven solution organizationally. This approach has been one of the foundations of their ongoing success and growth.
Having a strong business case is obviously the starting point for creating a pilot and eventually adopting any new technology or solution for the organization. But even with this goal firmly established, you still need to have the ability to understand the steps to get there, evaluate your progress, and finally deploy.
A measurable plan also ensures that your pilot doesn’t go on forever. Pilots are meant to be short-term proving efforts. You’ll never see success – and reap the benefits – if you don’t actually come to the end in a reasonable period of time.
Like most efforts – having the right resources in the right roles is critical. If you don’t have the right people in the right positions to execute your plan, you’re setting your pilot up to fail. The best way to maximize your results, minimize your risks and ensure you hit your goals – and reap their value – is to align your resources.
HL Group and Accenture have been partnering since 2001 to successfully bring our mobile asset solution to the government market. This relationship has covered the full range of organizations (federal, state, and county) – and their specific needs.
Matching our knowledge of assets solutions with Accenture’s tight relationship and understanding of these organizations, we’ve been able to work with the customer to establish the right goals, define all of the nuanced steps to achieve them, and marshal projects through to production. This has resulted in documented savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars – not to mention a number of awards for organizations that have worked with us.
While my friend will still need my continued counsel on the golf course, what we both agree on is that you’ll never effectively move a Pilot (good idea) to Adoption (great success) if you don’t have clear goals, a solid plan, or the right resources in place.