A couple of weeks ago, I did something fun and different. A group of friends and I went axe throwing at a place called Urban Axes in Philadelphia. It is pretty freaking cool and highly recommended. Set up in an old warehouse in Kensington, there are a bunch of lanes similar to a bowling alley but with chain link protective fences to cut down on decapitations. As we flung hatchets through the air towards a fixed point, my mind naturally drifted to finding comparisons with the Internet of Things (IoT).
One of the coolest things about organized axe throwing is that it is still pretty new. That means that there are no experts. I like sports where everyone starts off on the same basic level. Unlike bowling with my friend Tyrone Brown who was featured on ESPN as a bowling phenom and will throw out a random perfect game. Even though the IoT is far from new, the Internet of Things and the Internet in general are still in their infancy. According to Quora, the term "The Internet of Things" was coined by Kevin Ashton in a presentation to Proctor & Gamble in 1999.
And while in the great timeline of human work, the IoT is new, experience matters so much. If you are thinking of partnering with anyone in the IoT look at their combined IoT experience. If a company has experience, they know that the hard road is paved with real solutions as opposed to hacks that won’t stand the test of time.
Both of these things involve some risk. For axe throwing it was signing my life away on a waiver. For the IoT, the risks involve whether your product or service is ready for the marketplace. Too many solutions, services, and software are introduced to the market before they are ready for the end user.
When I first started throwing the axe, I was flat out awful, often bouncing the handle off the plywood target, having it come flying back towards my feet. Over time, I loosened up and found my own path on a throwing technique. The same is true for companies working in the IoT. There is no fixed path to direct success. Companies trying to duplicate the success of others will fail.
Working in the IoT is not glamorous and can be messy at times. It requires long hours and hard work. The details matter tremendously. It takes great leadership and foresight to find a path towards success. While Axe throwing was a lot less messy than I anticipated, having a bunch of amateurs throwing a blade of sharpened steel towards a bullseye is never a clean event.
Urban Axes lets you bring in your own beer, wine, and snacks. The IoT is equally enjoyed with beer and wine. There is a lot of pressure to perform and deliver real results in this industry, so you will find a lot of offices with multiple kegs ontap. A Philly area IoT Urban Axes meetup is actually a great idea.
James is the Marketing Director at StratIS. He was named Top Voice on LinkedIn in 2015, and the number two voice in healthcare from more than 2 million bloggers on the platform. He was the creator of the Seinfeld Birthday Project, which went internationally viral, received more than 1 million YouTube views, and was featured in hundreds of newspapers, blogs, TV shows and radio programs. He also co-founded TAP Social Media, a boutique-marketing agency located in Philadelphia, PA. James holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.