Make Your IoT Launch A Success With These 16 Steps
Starting an Internet of Things project can be a complicated process. There are many steps and checkpoints to complete to make sure your IoT application is viable, from compatibility to security, scalability and more.
To reduce your risk of encountering major project roadblocks—or going off-track altogether—we asked the experts of Forbes Technology Council for their advice. Below they share 16 steps to ensure your IoT project comes to fruition.
1. Plan for the increase in records received.
IoT feeds themselves are often not complex in nature—they’re time series data with a sensor identifier and what data is being measured. It is the volume that is often overlooked. Fifty sensors in a lab are not the same as 50,000 in the field. One sensor sending data every minute unsurprisingly yields 1,440 records per day, while 50,000 sensors yield 72 million records. Plan for your success, not your concept. – Joe Karbowski, FM:Systems
2. Design agile architecture.
IoT represents a new way of managing distributed clusters, even though those clusters may be sensors. Don’t design yourself into a box—allow the architecture to be agile so decisions can be made “on the wire” and in real time if needed, especially for anomaly detection. Many IoT projects start with data flowing directly back to the cloud. Don’t put in hardened architecture until you know how much and what types of data need to be brought back from edge devices. Recognize that the same agility will be required as the project expands. Be prepared for technologies that make up the architecture today to shift multiple times in the coming years. – Tom Fisher, SAS
3. Have monitoring and cyber hygiene processes in place.
You need to ensure that basic monitoring for the IoT asset is also covered in the project. Your system should be able to discover the IoT device, then monitor it for availability and performance. Some levels of cyber hygiene should also be put in place, leveraging best practices such as the CIS-20 controls. Many people leave this type of IoT asset monitoring as an afterthought. – Thomas Caldwell, Techniche
4. Define the decision and application matrix.
Collecting a lot of machine data through IoT excites everyone. The biggest problem with traditional IoT projects is executing inside-out—collecting data and then figuring out the application of it. However, one key step that drives the right results from IoT projects is clearly defining the needs of the end client and determining what decisions will need to be made due to gathering additional data or combining it with existing data. Defining the decision and application matrix first and then back-designing the different engineering layers required to support those decisions always get you to the bullseye. Also, it allows you to phase out an IoT project and gradually invest in different components. – Suhas Patil, Sankey Solutions
5. Perfect the user experience.
One very important step to ensure that an IoT project comes to fruition is nailing the user experience and user interface. Once the business has defined the product offering and has a high-level understanding of the business requirements, the product step that is the most critical is nailing the user experience—how the customer interacts with the product function or feature can make all the difference in a slow or fast adoption rate and customer satisfaction overall. Well-defined UX wireframes allow the developer to be far more effective and efficient. – Kim LaFleur, Title3Funds
6. Implement a procedural framework.
Having a lot of checkboxes implies the need for essential stakeholder controls during the development of the IoT project. An important step is to not wait until the end. Instead, iteratively check off items as the product is being built. That allows for appropriate controls management and tradeoff early in the development process. This means having a stakeholder policy to implement a procedural framework that keeps everyone in the loop at all times during the project. – Altaz Valani, Security Compass
7. Simplify the pilot project.
Ensure that the business impact can be clearly demonstrated in the pilot phase, which has to be simple to deploy in itself. Far too many IoT projects fail from the sheer complexity of the solution. Needless to say, basic questions around security, scalability and system maintenance have to be addressed up front. – Priya Vijayakumar, WattIQ
8. Consider device lifecycles.
A successful IoT project will also consider the lifecycle of implemented devices. Smart cities, for example, must plan for IoT sensors in the same way one plans for potholes in a well-worn road. Planned depreciation or phasing out key components is part of what completes a good initiative, if only because the IoT environment contributes to the good of those using the solution. – Pierce Brantley, Cytracom
9. Keep asking questions.
Ask the right questions, often. You shouldn’t just ask questions at the beginning of the project. Ask them throughout. Asking questions allows you to monitor the environment, make sure the project is going well, understand the problem you’re trying to fix and so much more. – Jason Caralon, Flexential
10. Treat IoT as an internet of systems.
IoT is not only sensors—it must be treated as an internet of systems in a heterogeneous form (devices, OS, business processes, actors). Each system triggers actions. Every action may have a reaction that may lead to a transaction. It takes a systematic approach, utilizing a hybrid edge cloud, to enable interactions between these entities, processing of data at the edge and generation of knowledge to the cloud. – Fay Arjomandi, mimik technology, Inc.
11. Implement an enterprise information management strategy.
For the true value of IoT to be realized, a sound enterprise information management strategy must first be implemented. This means reducing the number of disparate systems, centralizing the data as much as possible and establishing a single source of truth. This effort will help to ensure the accuracy and accessibility of the data and maximize the productivity of the IoT effort. – Brian Benn, Atlanta Housing Authority
12. Monitor customer expectations.
Monitor the expectations of your end consumers. Finding the right balance between what you are able to provide and what your stakeholders expect is important. More importantly, communication between multiple technologies is also critical for IoT projects. Synchronization between different devices should be smooth and straightforward to minimize delays in communication. – Irsa Faruqui, RetroCube – Software and Mobile Application Development Company
13. Design with security in mind.
One key thing to keep in mind is the security of IoT devices from cyber threats, irrespective of where the devices are—in the manufacturing plants, office campuses, moving trucks, in the fields, etc. Ensuring end-to-end security of the data transfer from the device to the IoT edge/IoT hub should be part of the design first. This includes physical network segmentation and firewall configurations on what traffic can flow in and out. – Nallan Sriraman, Unilever
14. Consider the cost and ease of deployment.
Many times, a clever solution is developed, but the feasibility of deployment is not fully contemplated. If deployment feasibility becomes an afterthought, it could lead to wasted resources spent on developing a good solution that will sit on the shelf. – Biju Nair, HYLA Mobile
15. Define boundaries early.
IoT projects can become overwhelming if the boundaries are not defined up front. Get the small wins first and hit the ground running without trying to boil the ocean. Make sure you have a plan to convert the data collected through your IoT devices into predictive analytics and can feed it into machine learning at a later stage—that’s where ROI starts. Start small with a large picture in mind. – Komal Goyal, 6e Technologies
16. Ask yourself if the product really needs to be IoT.
IoT, blockchain, virtual reality and many other bleeding-edge technologies share a common problem: They’re way too cool for their own good, so it’s quite easy to get excited about using them without having a clear reason for doing so. Therefore, the first critical step to a successful IoT project is to answer the question, “Will using IoT on this product be better for the end-user, or do we want to use it just because it would be fun/awesome/flashy to do so?” – Marcelo Wiermann, Lucidity