This article originally appeared in IoT Evolution
Vodafone Business recently released its IoT Barometer 2019 and the data indicates that more than one-third (34%) of organizations today have deployed at least one IoT project, a growth of 5% from the 29% reported in 2018. Of those that have already deployed IoT solutions, 74% say the IoT is mission-critical to their business.
While those numbers show solid growth, they disguise the fact that many IoT projects are still failing. Some never even make it past the proof-of-concept stage. Despite technology advancements and the general “cheerleading” around the IoT, it’s simply too complicated to get IoT projects off the ground. Organizations need to evaluate, acquire, test, deploy, integrate, secure, maintain and support their IoT deployments. At any step, things can go wrong. The evaluation step alone is often enough to cause organizations to abandon or delay their IoT projects.
Despite the increase in knowledge about the IoT, many organizations still haven’t bought in for one reason or another and have trouble executing even when they have full buy in. Here are five issues we continue to see as companies implement their IoT projects:
- Making a business case for IoT. Many organizations worry about how they can justify the expense of buying, installing and maintaining an IoT solution, and wonder if the ROI is worth it. Perhaps a better way to look at is what’s the cost of not deploying an IoT solution? What types of data and insights are you missing that could help you better understand your customers and grow your business? What are some of the manual processes that could be automated to save your organization money? What is the competition doing better than you that an IoT project can help solve? By putting together a solid business analysis up front that has true measurable business outcomes, organizations can easily overcome the ROI hurdle and make a solid business case for IoT.
- A challenge with hiring the right teams. A recent Cisco survey found that lack of internal expertise was an oft-cited reason for why many IoT projects were unsuccessful. The starting point for any successful IoT implementation is ensuring the right team is in place. While teams are getting increasingly knowledgeable about the IoT, it’s not their core competency, and the role is often broken up amongst several stakeholders, including IT management, engineers, architects, developers, integrators and installers.
There’s often a disconnect as well between IT leaders and business and operations technology (OT) leaders. A successful project for IT might mean that a system simply works, whereas for business leaders, success is defined by a project demonstrating clear business value or ROI. An operations manager might define success as it increases efficiency. or operations managers (it increases efficiency). It’s important to ensure that each clearly understand the goals of the project and has clear expectations of how those goals will be accomplished. Expertise on the technology front can help OT and IT leaders and teams make these goals and expectations clear up front and better ensure satisfaction from all parties.
- Dealing with custom software development. IoT software is the workhorse of the IoT, enabling users to manage, monitor and control connected devices and the data those devices collect. However, software development for the IoT is comprehensive and complex, involving embedded software development, mobile apps, desktop apps, analytics, reporting and more. Mistakes can be costly.
Software developers must be able to design software that takes into consideration factors such as the device’s power and battery life requirements, latency requirements, API compatibility, and other characteristics of the specific IoT implementation. These are all specialized skills that take not only software development expertise, but also a deep understanding of what it means to develop an IoT solution.
- Selecting and integrating hardware. IoT hardware can be like a puzzle, and seamlessly putting together the right pieces is key. Sensors, actuators, gateways, servers and routers all must work in tandem to deliver results. That’s often easier said than done, especially when hardware from multiple technology vendors is combined. Compatibility is essential in IoT deployments; ensuring all of the piece parts work together seamlessly will save time and money, and mitigate any potential headaches down the road. A single-vendor solution can help alleviate many of these pain points.
- Keeping IoT deployments secure. Ask any IT leader about their priority list, and security will consistently rank high. It’s no different for the IoT. IoT security is complex, and comprehensive solutions need to be utilized at the network layer, the hardware layer and in the cloud software to protect organizations and their data. Piecemeal IoT solutions that cobble together hardware and software from different vendors often leave it to the organization to ensure security end to end.
Connection-rich IoT networks can be lucrative for those who deal in compromised information. Data theft, DDoS and man-in-the-middle attacks are all common threats to IoT networks. However, while IT managers understand the importance of protecting their network, the IoT introduces a wealth of new software and hardware that will be unfamiliar to many IT managers. Very few will know how to truly reduce susceptibility to attacks from unauthorized actors.
The IoT is maturing, but there are still several stumbling blocks organizations face in getting an IoT project off the ground. As the needs of each organization is different, so too are their IoT implementations, and there is no-one-size fits-all answer for overcoming IoT deployment challenges. However, by tackling these five issues head on and implementing a comprehensive solution such as Longview that removes much of the guess-work involved with the IoT, companies will be well on their way to finding IoT success.
Brad Bush was named a WebRTC pioneer, an InformationWeek CIO top innovator and a top 50 CMO in telecom. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Rice University and a MBA from Southern Methodist University.