Episode 337: Internet of Things (IoT) Projects may Fundamentally Change Project Management (Free)
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The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems.
Internet of Things (IoT) projects are the projects that you and I will be managing in order to make these devices a reality, and according to Wanda Curlee (www.wandacurlee.com) these type of projects have the potential to fundamentally change project management.
The way that an IoT project is changing project management is not just because anything and everything can be and will be internet enabled, but also because the project management software we use will be more interconnected and developing these IoT devices will require us project managers to get a better handle on research and development, which can be extremely nebulous in the internet of things.
In a nutshell, Wanda Curlee says that IoT project management is heading our way and even if your projects are not internet related today, they will be in the future, She has no doubt that you will be managing an internet of things project.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode Number 337. This is the Project Management Podcast at www.pm-podcast.com and I'm Cornelius Fichtner. The Internet of Things refers to the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for Internet connectivity and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems. Internet of Things projects are the projects that you and I will be managing in order to make these devices a reality. And according to Wanda Curlee, these type of projects have the potential to fundamentally change project management. If you are preparing for your PMP exam, then the best way to calm your butterflies in your stomach is to take the practice exam. Our PM exam simulator offers you nine such practice exams to see how it works. And take a free test drive, please go to www.freeexamsimulator.com. The way that Internet of Things projects are changing project management is not just anything and everything can be and will be Internet-enabled but also because the project management software we used will be more interconnected and developing these Internet of Things devices will require us project managers to really get a better hand off on research and development which can be extremely nebulous in the Internet of Things. In a nutshell, Wanda Curlee says that Internet of Things project management is heading our way. And even if your projects are not Internet-related today, they will be in the future. She has no doubt that you will be managing an Internet of Things project. And now, the future is so bright, you simply have to enjoy the interview.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Wanda. Welcome to the Project Management Podcast.
Wanda Curlee: Oh, thank you very much. It's good to be here, Cornelius.
Cornelius Fichtner: We're glad to have you. Many of our listeners, they manage projects that are not Internet-related or at least they think they are not Internet-related. They may be building roads or pipelines and I just learned this week that one of them is working in a shipyard. So, is our discussion still relevant for them? And if so, what can they expect to learn from the Internet of Things as project managers?
Wanda Curlee: Absolutely, it is vital to their industries for all of them, even road construction, believe or not. The Internet of Things right now is in it's infancy. So, the Internet of Things is everything to everybody. Although, there are different definitions out there and we'll get into that in a little bit. But all areas of project management will be touched whether you're in construction, large or small, building roads, if you're doing apps development which is most people can see that relationship. If you're working on products, let's say a household appliance or clothing, all of those have to do with Internet of Things. Maybe not right at this minute but I can tell you R&D work is going on. So absolutely, this discussion will touch everyone in one form or another.
Cornelius Fichtner: You already gave us some sort of a high level overview. What is the Internet of Things? Can you give us the definition, if there is one definition?
Wanda Curlee: Okay. There is not one definition, it's an amorphous term at this point. But let's try to narrow it down a little bit. Everyone has a slightly different aspect depending on what industry you are. But let's go to where every college student goes to, Wikipedia. Wikipedia has a good start for Internet of Things. They basically say it's networking things that may have something embedded which allows these items to gather and share data. That is a rather small way of looking at the Internet of Things. And let's take an example of that. Let's say a retailer has a dress and think of what can be done with this dress. Or let's go into healthcare, what might be the next step of this dress in healthcare. Or maybe, it can even alert to weather. Yes, all of those just based on a dress. And it could even alert the person to some dangers that might be going on behind them, that maybe they are walking on a street and don't realize the cars coming up behind them. This dress could alert them based on the information or centers that are inside that dress. And when I say centers, I don't mean little things hanging all over it. It would be embedded into the threads of the dress or whatever the dress is made of. There are others within the Internet of Things that see the Internet going away, believe or not. So, Internet of Things, even though it's called that, people say, well, the Internet is fairly old. It's on it's way out and there'll be something different that would take the Internet over. But it's still called the Internet of Things because it's communication. AT&T has a little slightly different view of Internet of change. They see it changing our lives in respect to our motive, aviation, energy, healthcare, transportations, and logistics. AT&T goes on to say that it will change the way we do business. Change the way we drive our business models. It will automate things that we do manually today and we're saying that happening over and over again, not just with robotics but with other things, and I'll get into that in a little while. And by doing so, by automating all these things and looking at the Internet of Things, we'll have more operational efficiencies. So backing up a little bit to project managers, think about MS project. That is a standard tool that we all know. Some of us love it, some of us don't. But it's a staple in the project management community, whether you use the enterprise version or the regular project management desktop version. It's a very manual process today. You go in there and you update the page, you put in the resources, you have to put in your task. But eventually, I see us not even using the keyboard for MS project. The entire project will be interconnected. When the deliverable is sent to the client, MS project is automatically updated, as an example. This would then feed to any PMO software or decision making process, and create dashboards as needed for the executives on a real time basis. That's very different than what we do now. Sometimes, a project manager or the PMO has to go in to several different systems to update executives or to go down to the project manager or to even speak to the program manager. But let's take it from the opposite side. Let's say the executive is drilling down into dashboards and may have a question. Think about this, the question automatically is sent via a conversation system. The company I worked with, we use LINQ but it could be any type of software, even one that we don't think about today. And it's sent it to the appropriate individual based on what the question is. The ideas of IoT are almost limitless at this point. We are just limited by our imagination. Stepping one step further. Think of drones, 3D printers, those people that are add-on an oil rig depend on ships coming back and forth, they’re small craft or helicopters to bring them things, whether it be food, whether it be spare parts, whether it be mail from home. It cost a lot of money to ferry that stuff to an oil rig, it can be dangerous. Well, if you have a 3D printer, this will minimize the cost of bringing things over on a ship, on a helicopter. And maybe having it, the helicopter crashing mid-stream. Or maybe the - it's ferrying it by winching it outside of the helicopter and it falls off, so now you've lost it. If you have a 3D printer, and you need the thing immediately, you can just print it off. Now, I understand we're not there yet but we'll get there. And eventually, maybe the, whatever is breaking on the oil rigs sends it automatically to the 3D printer and says, I'm breaking, fix me. So it just prints the new item.
Cornelius Fichtner: Let me try and bring this back to project management because I can see these developments are going to help a lot of people. You've already told us, you know, this is going to touch all our lives. Can you develop this a little bit more for us project managers?
Wanda Curlee: Yes.
Cornelius Fichtner: These are great inventions, it's great progress, but where does it do we come into play here?
Wanda Curlee: Okay. Let's just take 3D printers. Right now they're in their infancy. We need these project managers to go out there with the R&D folks to bring it along to where it needs to be. That needs a project manager, a strong project manager that can deal with R&D, the nebulous, ambiguous items that need to be brought in to this 3D printer. And they need to understand, does it need to communicate? The project manager needs to understand his or her industry so they can go back to the R&D person and say, have you thought about this or have you thought about that? The new project managers coming in to the workplace today are just fascinating because they have all these different ideas of communicating among things and among people because they were brought up with the Internet. I was not. I was brought up initially with black and white television. So you can see where there's the difference. So project managers are absolutely needed to bring the focus to the R&D folks to make sure that this 3D printer is delivered on budget, on time, and with the quality that's needed. Does that help bring it back to the project manager?
Cornelius Fichtner: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely, absolutely, it does. I know you are the, working in the PMO, you're a PMO manager for a large computer company. Can you open up your programs for us? Is there anything that's IoT related that you are allowed to talk about publicly?