Big data, driven from the IoT movement, has fundamentally changed business practices today. Every industry realizes the benefits. From consumer analytics to asset management and machine maintenance, we are becoming a data-driven world ― and IoT sensors, networks, and solutions provide that data.
Why has IoT become such a necessity? Better decision making. Data empowers and enables businesses to make decisions to reduce costs, enable efficiency, and grow their bottom line. Data enables customers to make better choices too. We can monitor our home, our energy, and occupancy in real-time from anywhere in the world. We can monitor our health. We can watch our children. And you know what – it’s pretty cool!
But we can’t do any of this without the right hardware, software and connectivity. Therefore, you may need to hire a company with IoT expertise to help you develop your next big idea, or update the existing one. Not every company has the resources or knowledge to build their own IoT products, networks, and cloud-based solutions, and not every company can meet your requirements. Here are five tips to help you choose the right IoT partner.
As with any product or software development project, you’ll want to look for companies that have a portfolio of experience. Look at their use-cases, or talk to them about their experience. Get a solid understanding of the technology they are comfortable working with and how they have applied technology for other customers. Experienced partners help you identify what technologies you need to use and how best to implement that technology for your application. They’ll focus on both today and well into the future because they know the evolution of technology and are at the forefront of development. You will want a company that is versatile and have adopted a variety of architectures. If they haven’t had a lot of diversity among architectures and applications, they might not offer you the best solution for your needs, and you’ll avoid costly mistakes during the proof of concept and pilot phases.
loT is much more than a wireless device; it's comprised of hardware, software, applications, connectivity, integrations, billing, security, data storage and more. It requires understanding who is looking at which piece of the puzzle, how they are interacting with the puzzle, and more importantly, what they should be expecting and experiencing. You might only need a simple IoT sensor, mobile app and data storage. That is a much pure skill set than a sensor network in a remote oil field or medical solution reporting real-time vital statistics on patience.An end-to-end solution provider understands the full picture, they analyze the application and provide a structure unlike a simple wireless device manufacturer, or off-the-shelf mobile app builder. While both are applicable and provide good solutions, if your organization isn’t familiar with IoT, or you are in need of a larger solution, you will want to look for organizations that offer end-to-end solutions, even if you don’t engage with them for the total solution. Most of the time, you will find hey remove the complexity of the deployment, reduce the go-to-market time and are cost-effective.
In fact, most deployments require more than one partner to help design, test, deploy and manage your IoT solution. Working with 5 or 6 technology partners is common. The integrated technology involved in IoT solutions spans hardware devices, connectivity, platforms, applications and cloud services. Finding partners that have deployed solutions independently and together, and can speak about the risks, the failures, and the successes will help you choose the right partner.
Similar to partnerships and experience, be sure you understand the innovation and integration capabilities of your IoT service provider. There are many technologies out there; you want to make sure you are using the technologies that will best meet your requirements. They need to be compatible with current systems and future systems. You want to make sure they are not outdated, and support is readily available. Integration is a critical factor for hardware. It’s common for WiFi, multiple sensors, I/O, memory and communications to be integrated into a single board that can be wearable. Not all solutions require integration, but most require innovation. If a particular IoT solution provider doesn’t have the experience, or vision to provide innovative solutions, or they can’t seem to ‘think outside the norm,’ then they might not be the best fit for your project.
Data security should, without question, be the primary concern for every organization actively engaged in IoT solutions. Each element, the hardware, software stack, connectivity and cloud services need to have security implemented. When engaging with a solutions provider about your project, be sure to address your concerns for each level of the solution, and ask how they handle the following levels of security:
• Network connectivity
• Data encryption
• Device security
• Device-to-cloud network security
• User app-to-wireless network security
• Cloud security and more
Just like any new product, IT or service offering, the first step is to identify the problems that you want to solve, the expected ROI, the value prop for the offering and the deployment and service time. It’s essential to engage and collaborate within your organization and brainstorm the vision and results. Before committing with a partner, be sure you can clearly articulate your vision and expectations. When you are engaging with an IoT partner, make sure the project vision and expectations align before exploring technologies and deployment strategies. All the parties involved need to be unified, practicing open communication and transparency to ensure complete success. Everyone needs to understand the costs, risks, complexity, desired results, and the expected ROI. KPIs need to be agreed upon and accepted by both parties.
Each project is different, but to ensure success consider these six factors when choosing your IoT development partner.