Investing in the Internet of Things (IoT)? You’re not alone. But where exactly do you fit? Are you an existing organisation looking at harnessing untapped data to improve your operations? Are you seeking to bring an all-new IoT product or service to market?
You might think that your IoT strategy should look very different according to your overall business strategy, but in fact, there are some key considerations for all organisations to take into account. Whether you design or develop IoT products or services, or simply deploy them, and no matter how familiar with or new you are to the IoT landscape, these points should always apply.
Think value, not technology
The IoT is, of course, made of technology. It’s a complex ecosystem of hardware and software, all driven by internet connectivity. And yet harnessing it shouldn’t be about deploying technology for technology’s sake. It should, as with any business change, be about driving tangible value for the organisation in question.
Think in terms of the technology you want to deploy, and you risk very quickly losing sight of the true value to be gained from the IoT, and, in turn, being unable to accurately assess the success of your project. IoT deployments can quickly become highly complex and costly, so it’s vital to keep tight control, always, over the end goal. That can only be done by thinking in value terms.
So, throughout your IoT project, from design to deployment and beyond, continue asking yourself what business problems you are trying to solve, and how the IoT can help you meet them. The precise technology you deploy should only follow from there.
Security and compliance is still too often an afterthought when it comes to IoT strategies. Businesses focus on the connectivity they want to enable without considering the security implications of vastly increasing the number of endpoint devices within their organisation. Every single one of those endpoints has to be verified and protected – and the mechanism for delivering that verification and protection needs to be rapidly scalable and flexible.
Adding on security and verification processes after doing the bulk of the work on your IoT project is a recipe for extra cost and complexity, and possibly even for compromising some of the work you have already done. If you don’t have the in-house expertise to ensure device verification and automatically scalable IoT security, then you need to ensure you choose a partner who can.
Use insights to drive decisions
Like the focus on business value over technology, this consideration is all about retaining your focus on why you are working with the IoT in the first place. Just as it shouldn’t be about technology for technology’s sake, nor should it be about collecting up data for its own sake. The true value of the IoT lies in turning that data into tangible business insights, and from there making tangible business decisions.
In short, all IoT strategies should follow a circulate structure, beginning with problems to solve and a clear idea of how data can help solve those problems, concluding with an application of data-driven insights to real business actions, and then starting again. Revisit the problems you wanted to solve. Revisit the assumptions you made at the beginning. Returning to them on a regular basis not only helps you to retain a tight focus on why you are working with the IoT in the first place, but also helps you to accurately measure your successes.