At the end of June, the IoT Slam Live 2019 conference was buzzing in North Carolina, USA. I was honored to become one of the event speakers, sharing my thoughts and expertise in bringing value to the Internet of Things projects. My presentation features the phenomenon of common IoT misconceptions. And now, I want to share its highlights with you, so that you don’t make mistakes when choosing a solution for your next project.
Platforms for ‘everything’ — how NOT to get lost with your next IoT project
I’ve noticed that speakers don’t start their presentations from the definition of the Internet of Things — because it’s evident for every one of us. However, not every business owner understands the application of the IoT, making the same mistake — trying to attribute their current state within the mobility to the IoT growing phenomenon. But the first thing to remember is that you can’t compare the IoT growth with the growth of the mobile sector. Total monthly smartphone traffic doesn’t come close to the number of connected devices and data transferred between them.
The thing is that it’s not necessarily a smartphone that can be connected to the cloud. There are plenty of examples where several sensors or cameras make the difference for an automated project.
Another misleading point is to consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be the critical success factor that unlocks the potential of IoT. My hands-on experience, though, proves that no applications use only AI to reveal practical IoT power — lots of processes still rely on human operators.
As vendors realize the potential, value, and business opportunities within the IoT space, they come up with the platform offerings that seem to be delivering everything at once. Such platforms seem to be really good when it comes to bootstrapping of the IoT applications: they provide low data maintenance cost, low data ingestion cost, and almost unlimited scalability.
However, there are always hidden long-term costs, as applications you have to maintain require highly-skilled professionals that specialize in the platform you choose. And it’s not an easy case to find such talents on the market, especially when you need to radically or rapidly change your IoT application. Usually, customers come with such unique requirements or high volumes that it’s challenging to find the resources even worldwide.
Making things and systems intelligent
When business owners start asking questions about the IoT in general, its potential and value, you should understand that their goal is mostly educational. But when clients start asking questions about finances, like what’s the investment cost or what’s the ROI, then these people are serious and really want to leverage the IoT power. That’s the point when we come to choosing appropriate solutions.
If you look at a typical IoT stack, you can segment its functionality into the number of levels. On those levels, you have a growing value of an IoT project down from the embedded things up to the automation.
The majority of platforms try to cover the full stack and provide standard, universal components for each level. But the higher level you reach, the more specialized solution you need and the more functionality you would demand from platform components.
There’s always a risk that your competitors will instantly reuse your idea and implement it out of the same standard components. Moreover, it’s a usual case that platform vendors can’t offer you a ready-to-use solution for your specific challenge taken from the top level. What’s even worth is that your competitors can easily steal your platform solution comprised of standard components.
That’s why the most practical way to tackle these challenges is to use a set of loosely interconnected components that allows picking up a single part without any dependencies. The IoT Intelligent suite is a perfect match in this case. The suite is completely agnostic when it comes to the infrastructure provider, and you can run it even on-premises. It contains elements related to platforms, including security, edge computing, data ingestion, data management, connectivity, and data analytics. The total cost of ownership is generally low, as a suite’s set of components can be developed and maintained by developers skilled in Java or C++, for example.
The key value of IoT
IoT will provide vast opportunities for business optimization. My point is that not always the most feature-rich platform is the most suitable for achieving long-term goals. You need to think through the entire lifecycle of your IoT application, identify long-term goals, and only then pick up the offering that will work for your case.