Working in an industrial or manufacturing setting and want to ensure that your IoT project is a success? Whether that’s with a view to securing inward investment for your business or simply improving your bottom line, you could do well to consider what for a long time was a distinctly unglamorous aspect of industrial IT – your systems integrators.
What are systems integrators?
Systems integrators are, essentially, focused on ensuring how the different moving parts within a particular network or environment connect together as smoothly and seamlessly as possible. They are required in multiple different settings, contexts and industries, from entertainment to defence.
So, what has this got to do with the Internet of Things?
First, no matter what kind of IoT project you are working on – whether you are an industrial or manufacturing business looking to draw your IT and OT closer together, or a product designer looking to introduce connectivity and data analysis to previously standalone devices – your project is going to involve bringing together a vast number of different moving parts. Creating a new IoT ecosystem means turning devices that previously operated independently into, in effect, miniature computers or endpoint devices.
Second, it’s worth thinking about the different communications protocols that might be at play in your IoT environment. WiFi is probably the most common form of connectivity used in IoT projects, but cellular communications, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications (NFC) and a range of other protocols are relevant too.
Systems integrators can therefore be invaluable in terms of managing all this complexity and smoothing out the deployment and connectivity processes.
Drawing in data
However, there’s a more sophisticated story going on too – one that is truly transforming the role of systems integrators.
IoT projects are – or at least, should be – driven by data. Every placing of a smart sensor, every turning of a standalone device into a connected one – is motivated by a desire to capture previously untapped data, store it, transmit it back to a centralised analytics platform and then, in many instances, receive instructions back from that same analytics platform.
This, in turn, means that systems integrators operating in IoT landscapes can expand their roles so they are not merely focused on connecting devices, system and networks, but also on making sense of the huge volumes of data those moving parts are generating. How can that data best be used to optimise operations? How can it be used to inform the smoothest and most efficient way of joining together all of those separate systems?
It is in answering these questions that today’s systems integrators can truly evolve in line with the IoT. And this is why, if you are a business beginning to explore how the IoT could work for you, then you should certainly be seeking to work with the new breed of systems integrators. They won’t simply enable you to join the disparate parts of your IoT ecosystem together in the most effective way; they will also use data collected from those very parts to drive even more improvements. Systems integrators with IoT expertise can truly drive a culture of continuous improvement.