By Stefano Gastaut i.e. IoT Director, Vodafone Business – Vodafone Group
Recently I outlined my top tips to consider when developing an IoT strategy, but what happens when it’s time to implement?Like any new technology, the variety of information, potential partners and outcomes can seem overwhelming at times - especially when a decision needs to be made at speed.So, to help you on your journey, here are five things to consider when implementing your IoT strategy.
1.Investigate existing IoT solutions
While IoT projects sometimes need to be tailored to specific business outcomes, there are now enough off-the-shelf solutions available to fit the majority of business needs.
Basic IoT applications like smart lighting, for instance, can have a significant impact for most businesses and are relatively straight-forward to implement.
Now even more sophisticated IoT programs, such as IoT enabled security, can be bought as a plug-and-play solution.
Many organisations even buy equipment with in-built IoT capabilities unintentionally due to their prevalence in the market. These can often be customised and upgraded to provide more tailored solutions over time.
This means new adopters no longer have to start from scratch, and can implement and integrate sophisticated IoT programs without massive upheaval.
2.Explore a range of connectivity options
Today there are a number of connectivity options out there and it’s important to identify which is best for your business, as there is no one size fits all.
The most common options used are 4G and 4G+, followed by WIFI and fixed line. The average number of connectivity options used are 2.3 across the board, but the most sophisticated firms use three or more options.
However, expect this average to continue to rise as IoT reliance increases. Already over 50% of the more sophisticated adopters are using LPWANs (low power wide area networks) – ideal for smaller data packets and equipped with longer battery lives.
As well as this, MEC (mobile edge computing) is already being implemented in some cases and 5G is now a reality in several countries. This means even better connectivity will become a reality for businesses in the near future.
3.Build on your experience
The initial focus of most IoT strategies is to cut costs within the organisation. However, with time and increased confidence and experience, you will be able to start leveraging IoT benefits to help increase revenue generation.
You will also be able to expand the number of variables you track over time. Most companies start by tracking obvious, high value physical assets, but soon realise they can capture additional useful data and offer their customers added value.
The more experience you have with IoT, the more potential you will be able to derive from it. The companies achieving the biggest return from the technology tend to be those with the broadest range of experience.
4.Get the expertise you need
In a perfect world, every organisation would have an internal, cross functional team managing their IoT. However, even the most advanced adopters lack the expertise to go it completely alone.
IoT projects are increasingly being integrated into existing technology and mission critical systems. This has led to over half of adopters now working with system integrators to help teams work more efficiently, regardless of where they are in the world.
It’s becoming clear that a short-term investment in this space can deliver long term benefits for the organisation.
5.Build security in from the outset
Security no longer has to be viewed as a barrier to IoT adoption, with the majority of adopters saying IoT isn’t any more difficult to secure than other technologies. Between your suppliers and your internal IT team, security doesn’t have to hinder innovation.
The more experience you have with IoT, the greater your confidence will be when handling security as part of your overall infrastructure