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5 tips to structure IoT systems for insights

If you’re going to get a full chorus to sing the same tune, you have to make sure everyone is singing from the same songbook. But how do you write the lyrics when there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to creating an IoT solution?

It’s true; the usual straightforward technical challenges in IT projects become adaptive in IoT deployments, meaning they are often open ended and ill defined.

No matter what challenge you’re looking to tackle, I’ve found one way to keep an IoT design and development process in harmony: check that every choice you make is laying the foundation for delivering insights. Insights are guidance you need to make and take actions to better your business. That’s the only way IoT can go from buzzword to business transformation.

Here are the notes you need to hit to structure your system for insights:

Blend your business infrastructure with PaaS and SaaS solutions

Any device, data and systems you want to connect — whether they are devices, sensors and gateways, internal data systems or external data streams — should blend seamlessly with an IoT platform. How would rideshare companies succeed if the smartphone GPS didn’t integrate with their platform to provide a strong user experience, while also linking with internal dashboards to track operational excellence metrics?

For your business, that means looking for the basics like multi-protocol connectivity, an easy-to-use toolkit and hardware support along with more advanced integration of AI, predictive analytics and data visualizations. Those last three are especially key if you want leading edge insights that are better than your competition’s.

Make sure the platform you pick is flexible and scalable

Data is more powerful once aggregated and analyzed for better identification of issues and real-time reporting. The only way to do that over the dozens of possible use cases in your business is to build on a flexible platform that also supports interoperability.

To assess flexibility, ask a platform provider questions, including where can I host, what role-based access options do I have, what API access do I have, what customer bases does your platform cater to, what data exports can I do or does this platform work across use cases. Flexibility among these allows you to bridge gracefully from proof of concept (PoC) to perfect implementation, avoiding PoC purgatory along the way.

Search for stable cloud services

Often organizations will purchase or develop the perfect platform for their most pressing use case and build an IoT system around this. However, if that company goes out of business or if business priorities change, you could be stuck holding the bag with a technology platform that’s not adaptable to changing business needs.

While proprietary systems have many advantages, cloud-based platforms backed with big players in the space, such as Microsoft Azure, provide your solution with a scalable and secure back-end for all of your customers’ data and business logic. Plus, an insights-focused system that uses specialized analysis and rules processing with custom logic is easy to build on best-in-class technology.

Don’t forget to consider edge intelligence

We all know everything is moving to the cloud. But in high pressure situations like hospitals, you can’t afford any hiccup with latency. Even a few seconds of delay could mean the difference between life and death. If you want your IoT solution to move beyond what’s happened and begin sensing what might happen next, edge intelligence is crucial. While AI adds massive benefits, AI at the edge makes this happen in an instant. Not only do you shrink your latency envelope to milliseconds with edge intelligence, but this instantaneous connection also often means lower power and lower cost.

A platform needs an edge gateway or a ruggedized server to aggregate sensors, perform local processing and integration and upload data to the cloud. This is how you get strong insights today as well as even better insights as your deployment goes on.

Finding the right conductor is critical

Your customers use web and mobile apps and data APIs to manage infrastructure, optimize operations and reduce costs. A strong design and development phase will include database implementation basics that create schemas, define relationships and constraints and create the required views. That’s not all you need to do, though. You must ensure that users, device, firmware and stores management sync with any custom modules you layer on top for your particular use case. It’s these small but mighty technical details that ensure the decisions made in design and development produce the insights you need when you hit deployment. The right vendor partner can illuminate the possibilities and ensure all these details work in harmony, much like a conductor or producer does with your favorite songs.

Why? IoT is not a vertical market, an application, an environment, a use case, a segment, an industry, an audience, a product or a technology. IoT is how connected objects produce data that can lead to actionable insights for your business. It’s best to consider those insights from the beginning when constructing your IoT solution to ensure it is a perennial favorite rather than a one-hit wonder.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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