Moving from an idea to a pilot program to full-scale implementation can be difficult, mainly due to the uncertainty associated with the projects. We reveal what you need to know to make the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) pilots more likely to be successful.

1. Test and pilot implementation – learn the difference

Both test and pilot implementations are a good way to check how the selected solution works in practice. The choice between a test or a pilot should be based on what type of information your business needs.
We noticed that the differences between them are not always clear. It is worth knowing them, even if only for the purposes of creating transparent inquiries.


Pilot implementation is the introduction of a complete solution on a small scale in the organization to check the profitability of an investment. It may include a completely new approach or solutions proven in other organizations, but new for this particular company. Pilot projects are associated with a high degree of uncertainty. Its main purpose is, therefore, to check what are the advantages and disadvantages of a given solution before investing more resources. So it’s only rational to create a budget and provide resources that will be closely monitored to determine if this idea makes sense.

Conclusions from the pilot implementation usually take the form of comments to assess the profitability of the investment and may include, for example:

  • list of products required in addition to full implementation, re-estimation of the costs,
  • recommendations, opportunities, and threats,
  • suggestions and milestones necessary to implement the project.


The test is the introduction of a part of the project on a larger scale. It also allows you to check in practice how a given solution works and to properly prepare the company before full-scale implementation, e.g. refining logistics details or providing training for employees. From the test version of the implementation, specific results are required, which should be previously determined with measurable parameters.

A sign in the middle of the pavement that indicates "Awesome" with the right-facing arrow and "less awesome" with left facing arrow

The said parameters may include:

  • list of products and tasks necessary for smooth implementation, e.g. additional systems, communication procedures, training plans,
  • re-estimation of the costs,
  • practical assessment of tools.

Knowing the difference between a test and a pilot implementation, you can define precisely what your expectations are for the implementation and what results from you can expect.

2. Take care of the scalability of the processes from the beginning

The small scale of pilot deployments often tempts to take shortcuts when it comes to setting up a supporting infrastructure and the use of interim solutions to support the whole process. Meanwhile, switching from temporary solutions can turn out to be very costly, which in turn can affect the profitability of the project. A much better solution is to use scalable solutions, e.g. in the cloud, from the beginning of the project. Thanks to this, the costs of transition from the pilot phase of the project to a full-scale solution will be more realistic, and the implementation itself – more smooth.

3. Determine who makes key decisions

Even if it only directly affects narrow departments, introducing elements of Industry 4.0 has an impact on the transformation of the entire enterprise, from production to customer service. Therefore, the decision-making process should involve everyone whose work will be affected by the changes. If during the process, it turns out that the changes go deeper than assumed at the beginning of the project, it is worth inviting more people to the discussion. Of course, this requires a flexible approach to project management, and thanks to this, the assessment of the implementation will be more comprehensive, and the developed solutions – universal for the entire enterprise.

4. Determine what factors will be measured

When creating indicators to measure the performance of new processes, it is worth considering two types of measures:

  • universal for all departments affected by transformation,
  • detailed for specific areas.

The pilot implementation may indicate how deep the changes in the company’s structure related to the modernization of processes will go. It is obvious that the preparation of the measures should take place before implementation. However, since the role of the pilot implementation is to point out the advantages and disadvantages of a given approach in practice, it often happens that information not previously included in the assessment appears. In such a case, the assessment should be modified and all parties interested in the project should be informed about it.

A pilot's dashboard with the clocks and other devices

5. Use the synergy of processes

Identifying all the regions affected by the change thanks to small-scale implementation has another advantage. They allow for early decision making as to introducing changes also in other departments in order to better use the effects of the pilot implementation. Thanks to this, the company will start to benefit from the implementation of innovations even faster and to a greater extent.


Pilot implementations allow for a significant reduction of uncertainty caused by the introduction of new solutions and better risk estimation. Moreover, by indicating in practice all the areas affected by innovation, it allows for even better use of its benefits.