IoT systems will present themselves at one point or another to many organizations. There are some key characteristics of a successful IoT deployment — such as partnerships across your organization, easy device management and intelligence about the data delivered through the IoT system — but there are some cautions to be taken now. Key mistakes on implementation can lead to a potential risk that could put the entire benefit of a system at risk. Sometimes mistakes that can be avoided can come from an established list of concerns from decision-makers, as those can be addressed during implementations. Common concerns generally gravitate towards security, scale and complexity of a system. Going into a project, addressing these concerns and more can drive your organization towards a successful IoT project.
Here are seven mistakes to avoid if you are considering an IoT solution:
Not making a business benefit first. We all have at some point wanted to engage in a new technology simply because it was new, novel or cool. When it comes to an IoT system for a modern organization today, the driver must be to solve a business problem or introduce some efficiency that otherwise would not be possible. Maybe even consider a mission statement or equivalent to address the why an IoT project is to happen.
Implementing a technology introduces security concerns. This can be as simple as separate Wi-Fi networks used or as advanced as using the cloud for IoT certificate management. End-to-end security is a concern upon deployment and ongoing use. There is one classic example of an internet-connected carwash using a default password and by having a security issue, it can also result in a safety issue. One recommendation is to perform an external security audit of an IoT implementation — this is a new service and can really give some confidence to new implementations.
Not having a good forecast of the data flow. This mistake can come as a surprise as an IoT project scales. Factors like network traffic amount (throughput and types) and storage requirements over time can add up with many devices. The mistake is not taking proof-of-concept pilot numbers and extending them out to a production deployment size and scale. Then take that result to forecast the network and storage needs over time, such as a two- or three-year plan.
Not having a plan for device updates and replacements. In the data center world, I used to jokingly say never underestimate the value of a good firmware update for storage and server systems. In a way, the same applies to an IoT deployment. Bugs will be fixed, new capabilities will be implemented and security issues can be addressed through updates. Avoid the mistake of not having a plan to update — and insist that not updating is not an option. Also, what is the set lifespan of a device? How are spares managed? How are purchases going to be made through the years?
Cost is a factor, but not the only one. Like many other technology decisions, if price is the sole reason for a decision, there may be a mistake coming. It is definitely wise to shop around and look at other systems, but simply taking the lowest-priced option may not be a good idea.
Not having a plan for outages. This is a tricky mistake to avoid. Many processes today simply cannot exist in a “manual mode” or in an offline situation. Will this IoT system be mission-critical and possibly prohibit the organization from making revenue or doing whatever it does? If there is an outage, how would that be managed from a troubleshooting perspective?
Not having a monitoring system. I have this discussion with many organizations when it comes to doing something different and new in technology: If it is important, it needs to be managed and made available. These responsibilities transcend different technology implementations and models.
IoT projects will mean different things to different people, and this list is a start. Maybe some of these you have thought of, and maybe some you have not addressed. Regardless, IoT is a very dynamic space right now and will continue to grow. Fundamental responsibilities like project management, security as part of the design and implementation, and training go into a successful IoT project.
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