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Implementing IoT for business results: What you must know

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June 2, 2016

by

Jim Wells

You’ve heard all about the Internet of Things. You’ve seen the hype. And although you understand the potential, you’ve held it at arm’s length for some time.

Still, one of these days you know your competitor will launch a connected service . . . and you will wake up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, with an epiphany: my company is about to be left behind.

Do not make the classic blunder and be the successful company that fails to innovate to ensure future success. But IoT deployments are complex. How to do you get started? More importantly, how do you develop and deploy a connected service while still ensuring business results?

Embedding connectivity into your products and offering IoT services has the potential to add massive value to your customers and to your business. Navigating this kind of transition requires major shifts in mindset, processes, people and skills. It requires creating new business models, operating structures and management functions. (Learn more in our white paper, Capitalizing on the Internet of Things.)

IoT services can be a source of new and recurring revenue. However, if usage and rate plans aren’t rigorously managed, unexpected costs can quickly erode margins and cut profits. (Get more details in our Hidden costs of delivering IoT services white paper) Before rushing into the connected service business, it’s important to think your IoT strategy through, starting with your business objectives.

Your end game

A good place to begin is at the end. What is the end game of your connected service? In terms of your overall business:

  • How will you use IoT to bring additional value to your customers?
  • How much incremental revenue will connected services generate?
  • How will IoT streamline operations and reduce costs?

IT integration and devices

Implementing IoT means that you you’ll have a thousands or even millions of devices to monitor and track. And each device will generate a fair amount of data. You need to consider how your organization will handle that data in the framework of your existing systems. Questions you should be asking include:

  • What integrations with your IT systems do you need to implement to deliver revenue generating value?
  • What devices will be required to transmit the data required to deliver the value?
  • Will a cellular module be required? Which cellular technology is needed to support the data transmission requirements?

Operator networks

Give some thought as to how you will deliver your connected service. There are many options when choosing connectivity, Wi-Fi and cellular are the most popular options. The ubiquity of cellular allows you to better manage the full customer experience. Questions to consider include:

  • Where will your devices reside?
  • Which operators will you use?
  • How many operator agreements will you need?
  • Once you complete the heavy lift of integrating with one operator, will you have to start over with the next? Can you just call up your wireless rep and activate your connected devices? (Hint: The answer is no.).

For more on network costs and working with telecom operators, read this informative post by Theresa Bui on network communication costs.

IoT service lifecycle

Implementing IoT for business results requires launching, managing and monetizing connected services. It’s important to have clear plans on how you will handle every stage of your device lifecycle.  Before deploying, you should have solid answers to the following questions:

  • Can the process of onboarding and provisioning devices be automated and handled efficiently as you scale?
  • Can device performance be monitored and problems diagnosed in real time without constant manual interactions with the operator?
  • How will you handle demand for rapid global expansion?
  • Will you be able to manage billing, partners and control costs?

To manage all of these elements efficiently, you will need an IoT platform that gives you a single operational standard and interface anywhere in the world.

To learn more about strategies in IoT, tips on preparing your business for connected services and best practices for launching IoT, check out our IoT resources page. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog on the top right of the page.

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