How to Kickstart Your IoT Project
Are you considering an IoT project but not sure where to start? Look no further! As partners for many IoT solutions in the last few years, we have compiled our experience into four factors that you will need to consider before setting out on your IoT journey. Let’s take a look:
#1 Understand the business case & your customers’ needs
Long before your first device is connected, you need to start at the very core of your IoT project with these 3 questions:
1. What is the key problem you want to solve with an IoT solution?
2. What is the actual benefit of it?
3. And what information do you need to collect to realize that benefit?
To be sustainable in the long run, your IoT project needs to provide business value. Otherwise, it is a gimmick that will eventually be taken down in the future if the clear business value is not visible.
But, often the first thoughts are starting with devices and sensors. That is why your thought process should not exclusively start with the device, it should start with the solution considering the sensing possibilities.
Here are some questions that might help you figure out where to focus when thinking about the business case of your IoT project:
Is there an area that generates a lot of manual labor or intervention which could be automated?
Is there a step in the customer journey that is generating problems that need to be addressed?
Is some transmission technology already in place that does not perform well? (Too old, too slow, too expensive)
Are there new insights you or your customers would want to get?
An example of a company that had a clear idea of a business case – and an answer to these questions – was Georg Fisher with the Hycleen Automation System retrofitting. By understanding how remote access to the water installation benefits both their engineers as well as end-users, they had a clear vision and business value for their project to connect their infrastructure to the cloud and retrofit it with IoT.
#2: Having an open mindset
To enter the world of IoT means going one step further in the digitalization of your business. This oftentimes isn’t a straight line but connected with constant gathering of learnings, testings, and pushing boundaries.
Since IoT technology is incredibly fast-moving, you need an open mindset for adapting and changing while still operating with cutting-edge technology. This mindset and openness come in handy when new challenges arise like tech updates or changed user behaviour. The more flexible you are, the quicker you will be able to overcome those challenges.
#3: Build an end-to-end solution design
If you successfully have a clear picture of the business value you want to provide with your IoT project, you need to think about the IoT architecture. IoT architectures can be complex, but understanding the basics is essential to designing effective solutions.
By understanding the main four components, you can develop a foundation for your IoT projects that will help you achieve your objectives. You might also think about actually sketching out a high-level illustration of your infrastructure to visualize how these components work together:
Devices: Sensors or other physical objects collect data from the real world. They may be embedded in everyday objects such as cars, buildings, or appliances, or they may be stand-alone devices such as weather stations or asset trackers.
Connectivity: The data from the devices need to be transmitted to your data processing infrastructure, and that is why connectivity is a very important part of your IoT architecture. This may be achieved through wired or wireless connections or a combination of both. Modern IoT solutions rely on technologies like LoRaWAN, mioty, cellular IoT (NB-IoT, LTE-M), Bluetooth.
Data Processing: The data processing component of an IoT architecture is responsible for storing, analyzing, and acting on the data collected by devices. This may be done using cloud-based services, on-premises hardware, or a combination of both.
Applications: The applications in an IoT architecture are the interfaces through which users interact with the data collected by devices. These are of course depending on the business requirements that you need to provide value. They may be web-based, mobile apps, or dedicated hardware devices such as thermostats. Basically, they present visualized insights to end users and may be integrated into specific industry business management tools.
#4: Realize your proof of concept
You have your business case and mindset ready, and you also thought of an end-to-end solution design. Now we recommend looking into creating a proof-of-concept solution.
A proof of concept (POC) is an early-stage prototype that is used to test whether a concept is feasible. A POC is usually created before moving on to developing a full-fledged solution and committing full resources to it. In that way, you can still be cost-efficient and agile to iterate your solution design.
Another benefit of creating a proof of concept is that it helps you to identify any potential pitfalls or issues early on. This can save you time and money in the long run, as you'll be able to address any problems before they become major issues. Plus, it could help to build momentum and enthusiasm, as well as funding for the project.
Bonus tip #5: Get experienced partners on board
As you can see there is a lot to think about when you set out to build an IoT solution that provides business value to you and your users. The good news: You don’t have to do it alone! Exchanging experiences and testing out different tools and platforms can give you a significant boost in your IoT project.
We at akenza can come in and offer on the one hand a strong platform to realize your ideas and on the other hand, broad experience supporting companies in many IoT projects.
We can work with you to find that right business case, find the right components for your solution design and provide the akenza IoT platform with standardized interfaces, a large connector ecosystem, connectivity as a service, and a low-code approach to help you get started and build an infrastructure that is easy to scale.
If we want to see a connected world with a more positive impact on business and society, let’s do it together!