Decided that your business should be part of the Internet of Things (IoT)? You’re not alone. Over recent years, countless businesses have either started up in this space from scratch, or introduced IoT elements to their existing operations. With a strategic approach and careful investment, the IoT can drive both efficiencies and innovation.
Nevertheless, in such a noisy landscape, it can be difficult to actually understand what constitutes a comprehensive – or successful – IoT strategy. Is it really just about adding internet connectivity to a physical endpoint or two?
No. We’d argue that a far more sensible approach to the IoT is to move away from thinking in terms of either the internet or the things, and instead to think about data. With this in mind, there are four key data-driven buildings blocks that underpin every successful IoT strategy:
Successful IoT programmes always begin with a tangible problem to be solved – a problem that depends on collecting intelligence that has previously either gone ignored altogether, or simply been too costly and complex to analyse in any meaningful way. Begin, then, by considering which problems your organisation currently faces – or, if you are a developer or manufacturer – which problems other organisations face. Consider how data can unlock solutions to that problem. Would a better understanding of machine performance help you to cut down time spent on manual checks? Would greater visibility into the locations of the vehicles in a fleet help with driver allocation?
Logically enough, the second building block of successful IoT programmes involves capturing that data – which, in turn, means placing sensors that can both capture it, and transmit it to an analytics platform.
Many organisations make the mistake of focusing solely on the transmission side – that is, connecting endpoint devices to the internet. But that connectivity is pointless if there isn’t anything useful to transmit. This focus on data capture makes the difference between smart devices for ‘smart’s’ sake, and smart devices that genuinely collect useful intelligence.
Once that data has been collected and transmitted back to a centralised point, it’s time to think about your IoT analytics engine or platform. This is the powerhouse behind any IoT programme, so it’s really worth spending a lot of time getting it right. Not only does it need to have enough power to process all the data collected and turn it into meaningful insights, it should also use techniques like machine learning and even augmented reality in order to actively learn and improve as more data is collected.
A feedback loop
The final building block – and one that is often left out – is the process of feeding the insights generated by the platform back into business processes. The connectivity in any IoT ecosystem should be two-way – yes, data needs to be transmitted from endpoints back to the analytics platform – but it should also be fed back to those endpoints in the form of operational instructions.
Get back to basics with IoT implementations by thinking in terms of data-driven building blocks, and you can create a successful strategy truly from the ground up.