The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to connect billions of devices to the Internet easily. The underlying technologies are ‘old friends’ like cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data management,
storage, and security. Decade(s) old technologies, so it should be easy, correct?
Failure to Launch
So why have so few companies – even when they have decided to implement an M2M or IoT strategy – failed to even launch a pilot or project? More often than not, the failure can be attributed to a lack of time spent in:
- Gaining a deep understanding of end-user needs
- The dynamics and intricacies of the technologies involved
- The infrastructure needed to provide cloud-based solutions
- The tradeoffs that occur between product costs and levels of security, reliability, robustness, and compatibility
What Should Companies Consider Before Implementing an IoT Strategy?
At a minimum, no plan should be acted on without deep consideration and early discussion about connectivity, mobility, management, and security. A few areas of consideration for each are:
- Connectivity – What method(s) of connectivity will address the needs of products and customers and within budget? Is it future-proof and does it comply with relevant local and international regulatory standards?
- BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) – Employees bringing their own smartphones and tablets and accessing equipment from a wide range of locations means that the user experience has to be tailored to whatever device is used. Sounds simple, but can really trip up a program without adequate planning.
- Management – Manual configuration and management is okay when there are a few devices, but deploying hundreds, thousands or more will require careful thought and automation. Will the IoT device be able to make certain decisions itself, filter the data stream, or care for other local operations or will everything pushed to the cloud for central management? These just hint at the tip of the iceberg of due diligence.
- Security – A user ID and a password are no longer sufficient. Multiple layers of security including authentication and encryption, starting from the device component level all the way to the cloud, are necessary to ensure that critical data is protected.
Planning and Partnering Are Key to Successful Deployment
To quote Steve Jobs, “simple can be harder than complex” – but it is not impossible. Planning across the technology areas of connectivity, mobility, management, and security can help ensure that your solution will not be obsolete before it is released. Pairing with the right technology partners can help to reduce time to market and help companies eliminate costs associated with reinventing the wheel. Like a skilled composer, success depends on determining which musicians to recruit and how to fit the pieces of the orchestra together to create a magnificent symphony.
M2M and IoT can deliver elegant simplicity and measurable benefits when implemented well. While it may still be hard, to quote Jobs again, “working hard to get your thinking clean” can eliminate the #$%^!