Digital transformation can sometimes feel like smashing old concrete with a sledgehammer. You know it’ll break up and make way for something new, but you don’t know how the cracks might spread. In IoT deployments, we see failures due to technologies being introduced that really don’t have ROI in mind. A 2018 report from consulting firm Deloitte working off of survey data compiled by Cisco, showed about 75% of IoT projects “fail” in the U.S. and Europe.
If you are contemplating an IoT project yourself, ROI is always king. And the pathway to that ROI starts ensuring you’re leveraging a strong IoT ecosystem.
From the hardware itself, to the communication protocol you use, to your data management needs, to integration into your existing systems, knowing the participants across your project’s ecosystem could keep you in that important top quartile Deloitte and Cisco measured.
The layers of the IoT ecosystem
Here are the main sections of the IoT ecosystem you need to consider:
Communication standard: Picking an offering in this key layer depends on how your data needs to be moved. Are you deploying a network of sensors across a wide geography, delivering small amounts of data infrequently? Then a low power, wide area network (LPWAN) solution may work for you.Need super-low latency and have much larger data size needs? Cellular networks like 3/4G and the coming-soon 5G might be best. But how to cover the inevitable gaps?
Considerations on communication standards: Frequency of communication, latency, volume of data, data security, coverage.
Acquisition components: This is the pointy tip of the hardware spear - possibly a collection of wearables on the wrists of concert goers, a network of fire detection sensors set up by a utility to see threats for downed power lines, or a tracking system for a fleet of shared bicycles in a downtown core. At this part of the ecosystem, you may need to consider your hardware needs, your connectivity hardware and service partners and possibly an enterprise-level software solution.
Considerations on acquisition components: Sensor and actuators requirements, gateway needs, software layer, connectivity provider.
Data actions/analysis: Now that you have a way to acquire and move your data, what do you want that data to do? If your IoT project extends an existing service to your client base, integration into existing systems starts here. Digitalizing the operations team in your company for the first time may mean more thought on dashboards to present the data and make it actionable is required. And the field-deployed devices may have their own device management needs.As well, this is the section where a decision on a cloud provider may be critical.
Considerations on data actions/analysis: Cloud platform, analytics packages and platforms, device management systems, dashboard and graphical interfaces.
Integration layer: This is where this new IoT data intersects with your existing systems and processes. Is your deployment something that gives new insights to clients? Is it a greenfield deployment bringing a new data set into an AI or machine learning system. Edge analytics and intelligence to extend functionality are considered both at the previous analytics and this integration layer, depending on your edge use case.
Considerations on integration: Enterprise software, possible machine learning/AI applications, cloud services.
Understanding best-of-breed participants at each of these levels is critical to success. Often, the bigger participants across these layers — cloud services, enterprise software and so on — have preferred partnerships developed to shorten your discovery process. As well, understanding and building your project may benefit from outside guidance, too.
Momenta Partners encompasses leading Strategic Advisory, Talent, and Investment practices. We’re the guiding hand behind leading industrials’ IoT strategies, over 200+ IoT leadership placements, and 25+ young IoT disruptors.Schedulea free consultation to learn more about our Connected Industry practice.