CXO

Analyze costs vs. benefits before adding an IoT app to a server

Before installing an IoT app on one of your servers, conduct an economic feasibility study to see whether the benefits outweigh the costs. This is what to include in your study.

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Image: Joe McKendrick/ZDNet

Let's say your organization is considering adding an Internet of Things (IoT) app to an existing server that can be connected wirelessly to company-provided tablets. All IoT devices wirelessly send data to the IoT app in the server; all incoming data is automatically manipulated, filtered, and processed by the app before the data is pushed to the tablets. When the tablet users receive the data, they have the option to automatically print IoT data reports wirelessly to a printer locally or remotely. If a user loses a tablet, the machine should be able to send a distress signal to trigger the server to remotely wipe all data on that mobile device.

Before moving forward with the proposed app, you should conduct an economic feasibility study. This type of study usually involves a cost/benefit analysis, which should show at a minimum:

  • the proposed system's costs, economic benefits, and possible resource constraints;
  • the predicted actual savings (tangible and intangible) due to using the proposed system;
  • the security (risk mitigation) requirements that can be cost-effectively implemented under the proposed system; and
  • the departmental and/or company needs that would be met by the proposed system.

Here is a suggested outline to follow when conducting this economic feasibility study.

Purpose

First, you should state the purpose and include the economic benefits (e.g., will boost productivity) of adding an IoT app to a server.

System overview

You should explain why an economic feasibility study is needed. Be sure to state that the proposal's major objective is to improve productivity, quality, and accountability by having users acquire, manipulate, store, and analyze the data.

The next step is to describe the differences in the methods and procedures between the existing and the proposed systems. You should indicate what improvements the proposed system will offer and how the proposed system will impact:

  • hardware (server, tablets, IoT devices);
  • software (IoT and server apps);
  • the organization (increased revenues, increased productivity, improved company reputation);
  • operations (wireless networking, server administration, tablet users); and
  • development (training programs and the proposed system's flexibility for user tailoring of queries and reports).

Technical overview

You should provide an overview of the proposed system's tech characteristics, which include:

  • performance requirements (low latency) among a server, tablets, and IoT devices;
  • systems functions;
  • user inputs (queries and input validation); and
  • user outputs (reports and system status).

You need to emphasize the importance of:

  • backing up all data that can be recovered after power or system failures;
  • ensuring all transactions were completed after restarting the server; and
  • ensuring a disaster recovery plan for the server, IoT devices, and wireless network is in place.

Cost factors

For this article, the discussion of cost factors is limited to the labor costs of:

  • sys admins installing and testing new IoT apps in the server;
  • developers adding APIs to the IoT apps for integration with a legacy system;
  • users accessing, manipulating, and storing the IoT data pushed to their tablets from the servers;
  • business analysts testing if business requirements and expectations are met; and
  • security pros installing safeguards to protect wireless connections and the IoT apps.

Savings are achieved when the benefits exceed the costs of adding IoT apps to the server.

System development plan

This plan should contain:

  • network plans for configurations of wireless connections among a server, IoT devices, tablets, and printers; and
  • training programs to provide executives, managers, and users with the need-to-know information on the IoT apps.

Summary

Conducting an economic feasibility is a wise move before adding an IoT app to an existing server. It's well worth your time to perform this due diligence early on before investing resources on this project.

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Disclaimer: TechRepublic, ZDNet, and Tech Pro Research are CBS Interactive properties.

About Judith Myerson

Judith M. Myerson is a Systems Engineering Consultant and Security Professional. She is the editor of Enterprise System Integration and the author of RFID in the Supply Chain. She has researched and published articles on a wide range of cloud computi...

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