What underpins any IoT ecosystem? Sensors? Absolutely. Connectivity? Of course. And data – definitely.
Turning data into tangible business insights and effective action is the fundamental, core benefit of the IoT. Yet it is clearly a huge and general concept. How can you actually ensure that this mechanism is optimised within your organisation?
Here are our top tips.
Set clear (but flexible) goals from the outset
A good principle for any enterprise technology project – you need to know at the beginning what you are hoping to achieve by the end. This ensures that decisions about which IoT suppliers to work with, which sensors, devices and analytics platforms to deploy, and ultimately which data you seek to capture are all shaped above all by business-focused objectives.
However, it is also important to retain a degree of flexibility as to these goals, and be prepared to adjust them in response to the insights you develop. After all, you are collecting all this data in order to understand your business better, and optimise your operations. Part of that optimisation might involve adjusting your aims.
Take an integrated approach
Different IoT devices collect different data. Let’s imagine that you are deploying some location trackers, a connected thermometer or two, and some smart devices which track the performance of physical assets on a production line. These elements are all part of your single IoT ecosystem, but they are collecting information in different, disparate forms.
To really maximise the value of this IoT ecosystem, you need to deploy a platform or application which can draw all that information together, process it and turn it into a form where it can be viewed and understood holistically.
Data analysis in the short-term…
You can achieve immediate value from your IoT data by using it to make live, responsive business decisions such as rerouting a vehicle, reorganising a production line or sending for maintenance on a machine. Essentially, this means using the IoT to generate active visibility into your operations, and responding accordingly.
However, don’t forget that you can also look for patterns in your IoT data very quickly. A connected lightbulb, for example, can shed light (excuse the pun) on your organisation’s energy usage within a few days, enabling you to make smarter decisions about when to turn them on and off. A connected machine on a production line can allow you to spot bottlenecks in a matter of hours. Look for patterns from early on.
…And the long-term
Over longer periods of time, you can combine the data collected from your IoT ecosystem with non-IoT information such as business revenues, your calendar of upcoming events, HR data and so on, in order to generate a genuinely rich, sophisticated and multi-faceted picture of your operations. IoT data analysis over weeks or months can enable you to identify business trends, spot new relationships between different areas of your business, and make intelligent predictions about the future.
Add artificial intelligence into the mix
A powerful IoT analytics platform and the time and inclination to peruse and interpret the information collected by your ecosystem, both in the short-term and over time, will go a long way to getting the most from your IoT data. However, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the volume of information available, especially when you start combining datasets from non-IoT and IoT sources. This is where machine learning and artificial intelligence tools come in, helping you to refine your IoT data and make intelligence decisions about what to do next. Artificial intelligence can help you identify which IoT data is important (and unimportant) and what else you should seek to collect in order to optimise even further.
Making the most of your IoT data can be as simple as setting a clear goal for information you want to untap, or as complex as deploying a sophisticated artificial intelligence application – with plenty of steps in between. For more support, contact Tern today.