Most businesses can see that the Internet of Things (IoT) offers many opportunities to monetize and potentially change and pivot their business model. And more and more companies are using cloud-based connected devices and services to help run complex operations. Utilities, for example, are using smart meters to provide greater insight into power usage levels, and manufacturers are using sensors to help detect product flaws.

All sounds great, but few realize the obstacles that must be overcome while integrating IoT into a business. The answer just may be another “C’ in the C-suite. Similar to the rise of the VP of e-business during the e-commerce era, and the Chief Data Officer for the big data wave, companies entering the IoT space will need a Chief IoT Officer to guide them on this journey as the IoT industry develops and grows.

Companies need a senior-level champion to help accelerate the adoption of this game-changing technology. Just as Cisco had an entire team of Internet evangelists known as the “Internet Business Solutions Group” in the early days of e-business, IoT will need someone to explore and define its possibilities while driving action within the company and with partners and customers.

The prerequisites to IoT success are centralized ownership, cross-departmental collaboration, and agility. This is why the Chief IoT Officer is so crucial. “As IoT becomes widespread across organizations, it cannot become fully effective if the cultures, data, and devices from different departments are disconnected from one another and operating in a vacuum. The Chief IoT Officer will need to be the focal point where IT and operational technology (OT) data is integrated, analyzed, and turned into actionable insights,” said Ken Forster, Managing Director of ThingMUSE Ventures, a global venture partnering group focused on early-stage industrial IoT companies.

“The Chief IoT Officer should also be primarily responsible for coordinating with the C-suite to determine budget so that there is allocative efficiency between departments, as well as collective buying power. This person needs a strong vantage point to observe the effect of IoT throughout the company so they can quickly realize and capture new business opportunities,” Forster said.

When looking for candidates for effective Chief IoT Officers, Emil Berthelsen, Principal

Analyst at Machina Research, the world’s leading provider of market intelligence and strategic insight on the rapidly emerging Machine-to-Machine (M2M), IoT, and big data opportunities said, “Companies pursuing IoT opportunities should seek a Chief IoT Officer who is used to championing the ‘junctions.’ The Chief IoT Officer needs to work well with both internal and external customers and understand the junction between business and technology drivers, and balance company cultures between being product and service oriented.”

“The Chief IoT Officer must be an ambassador who champions IoT cross-departmentally, understands the value of data, and can maneuver this changing landscape while nurturing partnerships,” Emil continued. “Although there are no clear KPIs or best practices for this role yet, this person may behave something like a management consultant with a strong understanding of business models, the need for agility, and an eye for delivering results.”

IoT is constantly evolving, so the Chief IoT Officer must also have a very broad perspective to understand the potential implications of the technology from a risk and benefit perspective so as to consider how it might affect the brand, result in litigation, create liabilities, or create new business opportunities.

Although “Chief IoT Officer” hasn’t formally become a corporate title yet, IoT industry thought leaders such as GE, Rockwell International, and PTC have already found their IoT champions at the C-level. These new IoT champions will fulfill the need for IoT focus and leadership while helping their businesses seize the opportunities of IoT by driving the necessary changes needed for IoT wins.

So, just as the Chief Data Officer and Chief Security Officer have forged a crucial role in the C-suite at companies where data and security have board-level priority, the Chief IoT Officer will follow for companies that want to prioritize and accelerate the adoption of IoT.


Syed Hoda is the CMO of IoT analytics company ParStream. Prior to joining ParStream, Syed was the General Manager and marketing leader for Cisco’s Emerging Solutions Group as well as one of the Chief Storytellers for Cisco’s Internet of Things and Globalization initiatives.