In the last five years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a topic of great discussion, speculation, prediction and a lot of hype. The IoT market consistently grew in 2015 and 2016 and is expected to continue its growth through 2020. While the research firm Gartner has a conservative estimate projecting a growth of 20.8 billion connected by 2020, Cisco’s estimate posts a figure at a whopping 50 billion with the scope of connections including tires, roads, supermarket shelves and even cattle. While we can only wait and hope for cows to send data about how much milk they produce each day, for now we can safely say that even by conservative estimates, the IoT market projects growth of 30 percent each year. For IoT companies, this means ramping up their offerings and building a mature model or framework that brings in the maximum value to its customers with minimum disruption and risk.
1. Defined Approach to Solution Design:
This is critical for companies offering IoT consulting, specifically for industrial and enterprise customers. To provide a robust, scalable and targeted IoT solution design it is important to have a clear road map based on the customer requirements, the existing hardware or infrastructure, protocols, standards and cloud framework required. This typically includes a detailed analysis of areas like the number of things to be connected, how they are powered, whether they need a gateway or the Internet, what is the range of connectivity required, security essentials, application design, data storage type needed and collaboration requirements of people and processes, among several others. The ability to create a precise and detailed design documentation that forms the basis of the subsequent IoT project plan and the eventual solution development is a key feature that most IoT manufacturers must possess.
2. Integration Across Technology and Business:
In an IoT connected office environment there may be thousands of sensors and endpoints for a range of functions such as controlling lighting, measuring temperature, building systems operations, work systems, factory machines, security systems, etc. Each of these devices may use different protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, etc. With so much variety in hardware and software, it is essential that an IoT solution connects all of them so that the data coming from them is not siloed. System integrators fill this gap by connecting sensors, devices, platforms, external data, back-end systems and analytics. Apart from connectivity, system integrators like IoT gateways perform critical functions such as protocol translation, data filtering and processing, security alerts and notifications, device management, etc. Such integration of data can further help in automating a range of enterprise and industrial functions and business processes, like predicting machine failures, managing assets, ordering parts and more.
Another key component necessary for IoT vendors and service providers is providing analytics applications that aggregate data from different connected devices and convert it into actionable insights driven by flexible dashboards. These IoT analytics applications score over periodic reporting essentially because of the real-time updates provided for every connected device. IoT analytics are key for core industrial functions like predictive maintenance, real time status of goods and materials at the warehouse and process issues, if any.
This is arguably the biggest threat that IoT growth faces. Hence, all IoT providers must have a strong capability in enabling security across the spectrum of devices, data, network and cloud. This essentially includes authentication of connected devices and encrypting data transmitted throughout IoT systems and networks. Security systems must provide mutual authentication powers that allow only trusted and authorized systems to connect to devices, blocking any possibility of malicious attacks or hacks.
Last and certainly not least, delivering superior customer service through connected and remote service solutions. IoT service providers must be capable of delivering swift service responsiveness capabilities to customers spanning key features of remote monitoring, remote asset management, service agents login and ability to manage and troubleshoot workforce and resource problems remotely and without deploying on-site personnel.
For IoT solution providers, it is critical to effectively bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds and create new opportunities for clients across industries. Only when service providers deliver strategic differentiation to their customers will they be able to emerge successful in the IoT business.