If you think Business Intelligence projects are hard…. try running Internet of Things projects. This blog series is aimed to give you a compass to find your way through it. In this edition:

What’s Technically Beautiful may not make any Business Sense. How do we find a common ground for communication and technological understanding to rule the project? 

Communication is King

Communication is an issue in just about every project I’ve ever seen. Delivering and running IoT projects has proved the most problematic, however. With IoT, we start to talk devices, data, networks, applications, consumer needs, business impact, marketing…. and on and on. This requires people from various backgrounds such as engineering, marketing, data science, business leadership….the teams are blended, with a range of skill sets and perspectives and it’s hard to find a common ground. So, for example, what seems obvious to a hardware person, is completely oblivious to a business person. On the other hand, the business person can bring a hearty dollop of common sense to the proceedings; what’s technically correct may not add any business value at all.

Technology as Queen

Business first, tools second. The tools should serve the business value; if not, we get into the ‘shiny gadget’ syndrome and get very distracted by devices. This also happens to business people because they don’t have the engineering background, and it’s easy to get sideswiped by detail rather than bigger picture.

Just because something is technically beautiful doesn’t mean that it is the right path and everyone should shoot down that rabbit hole. There needs to be a brake that asks What is the business value in adding this technical feature?

Money is a language that everybody speaks. Can people get what they want technically? If they have enough money, time, resources and perfect skill sets, and the rest of the world stands still whilst they do it – possibly. In the real world, translating wish list items into time, money and resources means that priorities can be built, and project dependencies assigned. This is where the business minds come in.

Moving Forward with Communication Strategy and Common Tools


Question behind the Question

It sounds trite but there is no such thing as a stupid question – usually this means that there is some insight missing on the part of the listening, not the asker, because the listener has failed to divine the ‘question behind the question’.

Finding a Common Ground – User Oriented Talking


Credit: Michael Warden http://msisflotsam.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/investing-in-good-stories.html 

Using the INVEST system for user stories can start to form another language that everybody speaks. You can read more about it in a great article by Nazzaro and Suscheck over at the Scrum Alliance.

Visualisations act as a campfire around which we gather to tell stories (Al Shalloway)

Drawings can act as a campfire to help your team reach a common understanding.

There is no substitute for drawing out the architecture. Here is a list of Visio stencils that might help you to create your architecture diagrams. To install stencils, download the file and copy to the folder “C:\Users\you_user\Documents\My Shapes”. This is the default folder for the Visio custom shapes.

Hadoop Icons for Oozie, Hive, Yarn, Ambari etc -by Hortonworks

SSIS Stencils – by Josh Robison, over at Jamie Thomson MVP’s site

Office365 and Azure Integration Stencils – Microsoft, which have stencils on the following:

  • Skype for Business
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2013
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

Microsoft General Integration Stencils by Sandro Pierera MVP

  • BizTalk Server
  • Microsoft Azure
    • BizTalk Services
    • Azure App Service
    • Event Hubs
    • and so on
  • PowerBI


I hope that helps.

-Jennifer Stirrup

Credit for Featured Image: http://thenextweb.com/dd/2014/03/25/engineering-spirals-10-philosophies-facilitate-innovation/#gref 



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