Every company wants to capitalize on the Internet of things (IoT) in its big data strategy—but what's the best way to go about it? Here are 10 steps to include in your IoT enablement plans.
Company decision makers hear the hype about IoT, but many don't understand how it can make a practical difference in the business. Spending some upfront time acquainting these individuals with actual IoT use cases—and how they have paid off for others—can go far when it comes to getting buyoff for an IoT budget.
Because companies are unique in their needs, an IoT project that works for one organization might not work for another. Before you proceed with any IoT pilot or project proposal, strategize with the key decision makers throughout the company who can become your IoT champions. This helps ensure user buy-in to the project. It also identifies the IoT projects that business leaders feel will deliver highest value to the company.
3: Go for the low-hanging fruit
The new technologies you introduce need rapid and highly visible successes. If your corporate IoT strategies align with IoT projects that already have a proven track record in other companies—and that are relatively straightforward to implement and yield results—focus on those projects first. Also, any IoT project that can demonstrate great "before and after" metrics in a company area of need will go a long way toward laying the groundwork for new IoT projects.
4: Clean your data
One of the catches with IoT data that is generated by machines or delivered over the internet is that you get everything, including a lot of junk you don't need. This bogs down system resources and clogs networks. An IoT project should identify the IoT data you want, and it should determine the IoT data you want to discard. A data cleaning process in which you distill the IoT data is the next step. You can do this data cleaning yourself or it to a vendor.
5: Think about your customers
Some of the best IoT projects focus on what customers would like to see. A great example is municipal tram systems that now use IoT sensors to predict system equipment and track failures so repair crews can proactively fix them before they stop traffic. These IoT systems even participate in sending messages to the mobile phones of customers when there is a glitch in the systems, advising customers of alternate routes to their destinations.
6: Never forget failover
For systems that depend upon a steady stream of IoT data, there will always be the threat of a machine or internet failure that causes data flows to stop. If you're using automated workflows that are driven by IoT data, it's especially important to design failover systems that can transfer control of these workflows to a manual mode if you experience IoT disruption.
7: Strengthen security
If you are using raw IoT data from the internet, there are elevated security risks for malware, viruses, and other deleterious security threats that come in with the data. Any company considering an internet-driven IoT data feed should revisit its security measures for both local and wide area networks.
8: Work your IoT and system of record combinations
The best way to maximize the use of IoT information is to team it with data from your internal systems of record. For instance, if you're gathering IoT data about your customers' behavior on your website, you can combine this data with customer keys and information that already exist in your systems of record, such as where the customer lives and other key demographics that are stored in a customer record. This enables you to build a more complete picture of each customer and his/her buying habits and preferences.
9: Set baselines and metrics... and go for results
Strive to do IoT projects that can be measured against past company performance baselines in the area that the project focuses on. In this way, you can easily demonstrate the results of the IoT, whether in improved revenues, better customer service, faster complete times in your internal operations, cost savings, or something else.
10: Define your next-gen IoT applications
As you establish a successful track record with your IoT projects, start thinking about how you are going to build on these projects with more IoT applications. Organizing a group of key business decision makers who participate in strategizing is a great way to keep your IoT initiatives moving forward.
Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President of Product Research and Software Development for Summit Information Systems, a computer software company; and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Technology at FSI International, a multinational manufacturing company in the semiconductor industry. Mary is a keynote speaker and has more than 1,000 articles, research studies, and technology publications in print.