The IoT is the buzzword of the day and while this doesn’t make it any less interesting, as with any trend, it is a basic fact that can lead to its trivialisation. The upshot is that certain aspects of its deployment are not given the importance they deserve and this can result in a poor adoption where possibilities are overlooked or, worse still, it can even end up being counter-productive.
So, in a bid to prevent conceptual errors in corporate IoT projects, we have drawn up a series of tips to help you to bring to fruition IoT deployments in your business.
- Set clear goals
Before you start to plan anything, you need to be very clear about the goals of the IoT project. It is not about deploying the IoT in your business for the sake of it, simply because everybody is talking about it and “we need to be up there with them”, going about it any old way.
An IoT deployment is done to meet specific goals; otherwise it will simply result in irreparable losses of time and money.
At this initial stage, we need to decide whether to opt for external consulting or use dedicated staff hired specifically for this project, how much external help we need, and what its involvement should be.
- Don’t try to reinvent the wheel
You are probably aware of many examples of businesses like your own from the same field and with the same turnover and activity that have already implemented IoT projects, or you can investigate further afield.
In this case, the conclusions you reach will be very useful in helping you to define your goals, knowing how far you can get with your systems and the data that you can generate and want to process.
- Choose the data carefully
Following on from the previous tip, we need to consider what data we can generate and what data we want to process.
This way, we eliminate the extra cost of collecting, storing and processing data that is not useful for our goals, which would result in wasted resources and, hence, money.
This brings us to choosing the type of sensors we need to install and where, which processes to control and monitor, and to start defining the systems, software and staff we need to carry out the IoT project.
- Choose a scalable model
One very common mistake that we see is creating a model based on the here and now that, at best, takes into account the near future. We need to think bigger: about times that are yet to come and how our business and business activities might evolve in the future. This will save us from having to redeploy later if premises change.
- Be very clear on who is responsible for the project’s materialisation
This refers both to the people and departments in the different areas. It is not necessary to put the ICT department in charge of everything or to give it responsibility solely for the hardware and software.
We need to take a good look at our business processes, which departments are responsible for each, and engage them in the project. Their feedback will also be invaluable for adding the final details to the IoT project.
- Choose where to store and process the data carefully
It is a difficult balance to achieve with many parameters that come into play: will we have enough power in the end nodes to process data? (edge computing). Will we use a cloud solution? Will it be public, private or hybrid?
All of these premises are key when defining the system that will collect and process the data.
In this case, we also recommend asking the advice of experts from outside the company.
- Connectivity technologies are worth a closer look
There is a whole world to explore outside Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G/4G/5G. There are a lot of connectivity technologies specific to IoT that you have probably never heard of.
So it’s worth having a look at technologies like LoRa, Sigfox, Li-Fi and NB-IoT. Again, it is a good idea to get external advice in this area.
- Keep a close eye on security
Although we may be tired of hearing the security mantra, we cannot ignore it; quite the contrary. Today businesses of every size are a primary target for attacks of all kinds, so your project needs to be equipped with the most advanced security in order to prevent vital information possibly related to third parties from being stolen from your company.
In this regard, we recommend having the support of one or more external providers that specialise in the field, since the security field is a very broad one and requires expert knowledge to protect an entire computer system properly from top to bottom.
Don’t try to do it all at once; deploy and test, introduce the IoT slowly and gradually into every aspect of your business. Only then can you take a step back if you see something that does not work, redefining it and implementing it correctly to avert chaos.
- Choose good data intelligence
If you have already defined your project goals and know which sensors and collection and processing systems you need, there is just one obstacle left to overcome: choosing the data intelligence system that summarises and presents data in a way that is useful for your business.
Just like a Business Intelligence (BI) system, these systems provide summaries with global data calculated from a large volume of individual data, means and approximations, with charts and other elements to help us make business decisions.
To apply all these tips to IoT projects in your business, you’ll need a series of services, products and possibly external advisers. The IoT World Congress brings together companies dedicated to providing these services and will be held in Barcelona from 29 to 31 October 2019. There you’ll find everything you need and more.