The IoT: we’re past the hype, but where do you start?
The Internet of Things. It’s no longer the new kid on the block as far as technology innovation is concerned – but it’s still a long way from maturity. So, if your organisation quietly sat back while the hype died down, and is now convinced that investing in connected devices is a sensible strategy, it can still be difficult to know where to begin.
Here, then, are three key strategies to enable you to get on board with the IoT in a strategic, long-term way.
Begin with real business problems
This is the crucial foundation of any IoT programme, and the difference between getting caught up in the hype, and deploying technology that will genuinely help your business thrive and grow. It’s true that the IoT covers a huge spectrum of different applications, and can drive tangible benefits across a wide range of sectors and organisation types – but to realise those benefits, you need to know what you’re trying to change.
As such, any corporate IoT strategy shouldn’t begin with questions around what kind of technology to deploy, but around what kind of business challenges you are trying to meet, or what kinds of valuable data are currently going untapped. Perhaps you are wasting time and money performing manual checks or tests that you suspect could be automated via the IoT. Perhaps you want to better understand how a particular machine is working, or gain greater visibility over a fleet of vehicles. Beginning with this business context will not only help you make sensible decisions as to the technology you deploy; it will also help you to better evaluate the success of your IoT programme, and adjust it if needs be.
Choose your platform wisely
Data-capturing sensors are the endpoints of your IoT architecture, but the system that binds them altogether is your IoT analytics engine or platform. And while those sensors are typically quite simple pieces of kit – they might be measuring something as straightforward as location or temperature – the analytics engine is a far more complicated beast.
Your IoT platform needs to be able to collect all the data generated by connected devices and sensors throughout your organisation, analyse it en masse, and translate it into tangible business intelligence. Ideally, it should also integrate machine learning and augmented reality solutions so that you can truly maximise the value of your IoT strategy. It’s likely to be the biggest financial investment when it comes to introducing the IoT to your business, and the intelligence it generates needs to make sense to a wide range of staff within your business, not just the IT team, so it’s vital to choose wisely. Our Thingworx solution is the world’s most widely adopted IoT technology platform – it comes highly recommended!
Think in terms of process, not solution
Enterprise IoT programmes should never be thought of in terms of a one-off solution. The great potential of the IoT in business settings lies in its ability to drive tangible action – which means you need to build those actions into your IoT strategy from the start.
Of course, if you have followed the first two steps, then implementing action from your IoT data should be relatively straightforward. You know the problems you are trying to solve, and you have a powerful analytics engine to inform your answers to those problems. All that is left, then, is taking that IoT data and using it to shape tangible action.
This feedback loop is what has moved the IoT from breathless hype to powerful business tool – if you can implement it properly.
Planning for a successful IoT project
IoT projects can be daunting prospects. The IoT is by nature complex and dynamic. Once your organisation has committed to developing an IoT strategy, it has to accept the reality of a vastly increased number of devices on its network, ever-changing user bases and ever-moving endpoints, and, crucially, a much, much larger volume of data to process than ever before.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the problems start long before the project has got off the ground. IoT strategies are complex to implement, and a high proportion of them fail before completion. This is costly, can impact on operational efficiency and drag down morale. How, then, can you plan for a successful IoT project? Here are 7 key areas to consider, which we will cover in more detail:
- Ensuring accountability
- Evaluating vendors
- Understanding failure
- Network capability
- Handling data
- Looking to the future