Innovative companies worldwide are already leveraging the internet of things (IoT) to change the way their industry operates. This disruption is not just the reserve of Silicon Valley – it’s about boosting uptime for manufacturers or adding intelligence to hand sanitisers. But for businesses, getting started with an IoT project can seem daunting. The technologies are many and complex, the applications are almost endless and the potential risks can seem scary. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
A study carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2020 highlights that 58 per cent of companies are now deploying IoT technologies for their internal operations and 45 per cent as part of their external products and services. Whatever the application, 57 per cent of companies surveyed reported a higher return on investment than they expected. Putting the boom in deployments to one side, it’s worth highlighting that the 2013 and 2017 editions of the EIU survey chronicled how early adopters faced significant obstacles. Three years later and 35 per cent of those pioneers are now looking to double their investment in IoT, having overcome initial hardship.
Use cases vary from tracking the humble pallet as it travels through a supply chain and across the world to managing all of Taipei’s lighting in just one interface. In fact, the repair costs of a failed Taiwanese light can amount to twice the cost of the light itself by the time you factor in a night shift of engineers, public liability insurance and the disruption caused by road closures. So IoT-based predictive maintenance planning now pinpoints failures on a closed street before they happen, dramatically reducing repeat visits to the same location.
Fleet managers have capitalised upon this burgeoning technology, using connected devices to enhance the visibility of their assets, improve customer service, reducing insurance premiums and vehicle maintenance costs.
The IoT is generating far richer insights that can better inform a business, which is why 26 per cent of the organisations the EIU surveyed see IoT as pivotal in their planned use of artificial intelligence. In short, anyone looking to leverage AI probably needs to get their head around IoT first.
Digital transformation is not just about finding efficiencies and improving customer experience. It’s also unlocking previously untapped “as a service” (aaS) revenue streams by retrofitting connectivity to previously unconnected devices.
Buy versus build
But as any of those early adopters will tell you, it’s not a simple task, especially if you plan to go it alone. An architect would not be in gainful employment if their foundations had to be ripped out after two years, yet this is commonplace among businesses trying to create their own proprietary IoT deployments. Organisations often forget that a new device estate needs to be secure and scalable for the entire life cycle, not just upon rollout.
Considerations for a secure, scalable IoT estate
Cost, complexity, and trust are all common concerns held by the many stakeholders, with new considerations that come to light as enterprises move from research, through proof of concept (POC) and into the ongoing lifecycle management of an IoT device estate. Even the largest multinational corporations, such as Johnson Controls International, are turning to third parties such as Pelion for support. In doing so, they’re simplifying global connectivity, updates and device management, plus the growing prospect of managing applications at the edge of their network to reduce latency and cost.
If you’re an organisation about to embark upon your own digital transformation, ask yourself this: can your organisation update cell networks to optimise roaming costs as your shipment rolls over the Canadian border? Can you deploy a security patch to protect a global estate of intelligent door locks without leaving your office?
Choose your partners wisely
When tendering for an IoT partner, the questions you ask could make the difference between a solution that only supports some of your current requirements and a solution that fulfils future IoT aspirations.
Ensure you are drilling into your actual needs rather than just discussing technology by doing the following:
• Make sure you’ve discussed expected data consumption, device location and whether mobile or fixed devices will be deployed, as these considerations impact your success and ongoing cost. Do they have a broad ecosystem of partners who can tailor a solution to your specific connectivity and power consumption needs?
• Think about the deployment at each stage of the device life cycle. Can your chosen partner adapt during the device’s deployment and can they offer a global SIM to match your export aspirations?
• What assurances have you been given to ensure devices remain secure once in the field and do they have a demonstrable track record of consolidating multiple devices into a single screen?
Breaking down the barriers to IoT adoption is a necessary task for anyone looking to revolutionise their industry. Teaming up with a partner like Pelion can help enterprises keep things simple. Pelion can help you get your devices connected wherever they are in the world, give you comprehensive management capabilities so you can optimise their performance and provide the tools and processes you need to ensure they remain secure throughout their lifecycle. Focus on what you do best and don’t let the complexity slow you down.
For more information please visit www.pelion.com