Expecting the information collected over the IoT system to bring real business benefits in any industry presents a serious challenge and a rewarding step forward. Conversely, it could be a disappointment and complete waste of time and money. Why is this so, and how do you find the best approach to the IoT software service implementation project that will satisfy all involved parties?
Motivation and Expectations
Some motivation factors are obvious – lowering operational expenses, more control, improved security, more information, better financial outcome. This is the usual stuff, just another data collection channel. Yes, maybe in real-time, maybe we get a bigger pile of data, maybe it sounds cool and more advanced. But didn't we have the same data before, just collected in a conventional way?
Why would we depart from what we are comfortable with if it brings us the results we need?
Before the IoT era, we knew the number of working hours of each machine. We were able to know how much fuel has been consumed per machine during each work phase, per a project’s WBS element, per cost center, per division or in total at some point in time. It’s the same for truck mileage or other specific machinery utilization, e.g. asphalt laying equipment in the construction industry.
Why risk putting on additional pressure by adding more indirect control over the field of operations managers? Why get one’s hopes up about big improvements and expectations for mid- and higher management? Stuff like that can sometimes make things worse in terms of performance, rather than make them better if they are not well-tuned in business processes and communicated across the organization.
Path to Successful Implementation
To support such a complex investment decision and gain an acceptable business outcome from the IoT system, it’s very important to reasonably choose the implementation strategy. Possible strategic choices could lie in a few different areas which could be identified over the following questions:
What are the business expectations?
How many devices or machines do we have?
Do we have enough internal expertise to conduct the project implementation?
Are our machines and plants ready to be integrated with the IoT system?
Do we have an existing enterprise software solution that is open to be integrated with the IoT ecosystem fast enough and with minimum cost?
Suppose that an organization is looking at the IoT as a technology which is only nice to have, which could improve a company image on the market, or as just one of the possible business innovations that could be tested. With a relatively low number of devices and machines, it might be good enough to find a small but reliable partner IT company which has already developed the standardized configurable market proven PaaS or SaaS solution, and take the proof of concept approach. Such platforms are usually very flexible, configurable and their pricing and licensing policies are based on pay-as-you-grow monthly fees. Such an approach enables quick implementation and adaptation of business expectations over time, continuous adoption of knowledge throughout the organization with a minimal budget.
On the other hand, larger companies that maybe already have previous experience with IoT implementations will probably choose a combination of the first option conducted under the supervision of internal IoT and IT departments, with lots of integration interfaces with Business Analysis tools, ERP systems, and manufacturing support systems.
Undoubtedly, the implementation of the IoT system could represent a major improvement for the organization and its business processes, but ROI and stakeholder satisfaction shall only be achieved if the organization is prepared for such a project, implementation scope and goals are clear and prudently chosen, and most importantly, if we have the right implementation partner and internal knowledge to deal with all kinds of specifics which bring about such a wide technological and organizational change. When you looking for the right outsourced implementation partner there are some key factors that you should take into account. Here’s a checklist to guide you: