Over the past week, I have been inundated with information about the Internet of Things. This phrase may be new to some. It simply means as the Internet continues to develop, everyday technology objects are connected to send and receive data via the Internet – think FitBits, medical devices and apps.
Part of my IoT information inundation was self-inflicted. I finished reading a book cleverly titled The Internet of Things by Samuel Greengard, heightening my awareness to Internet content, email, and even the television with IoT inferences and references
Here is a quick experiment: Turn on your computer and television. Track the number of times you hear or read smart device, sensor data or customer engagement. With self-awareness, you might be surprised at what you read and hear. For example, I was watching a soccer match where players’ soccer cleats had smart-speed cells that could track speed, sprint times and distance. The NFL is following suit with sensors tracking much of the same information. Cool data for us spectators and great data for coaches to use.
This begs the question, if a professional sports team is interested in tracking player performance, why aren’t more business organizations leveraging technology to manage their products? Some may argue there are barriers related to: technology, cost to value and resources. Yet there are business sectors planning and harnessing technology at an affordable rate with ROI. Here are a few suggestions to start using IoT data to benefit your business.
The two biggest questions related to IoT technology are what data should be extracted and how much? Like any other business initiative, with proper planning, goals, rules and processes these questions can be asked and answered. One of the biggest hurdles some businesses encounter is industry specific regulation—think banks and hospitals. As IoT technology becomes mainstream, there are companies that specialize in how to make the connection between devices and data while staying within the parameters of regulations.
Some companies have a lot of data. We call it “big data.” Making decisions on what to pull, how to structure and store it is critical to planning to ensure servers stay operational. There are now scalable clouds that expand and contract based on how much data needs to be stored. In terms of technology storage decisions, ask if the data being pulled for your project needs to be loaded in real-time or overnight? Proper planning ensures technology works for your project.
Cost to Value
Before starting, assess the cost to approve, test, validate and deploy your project. Will it be worth it based on the goals of the project? Don’t just think about sales; consider value.
Automobile companies build proactive maintenance models to gather information about vehicle repairs, crashes or issues. That data is used to evaluate and establish recalls that potentially avert lawsuits.
Another less critical example is a medical company that gathers data on a device being used in a hospital. If data is gathered overnight and reps can see a device is down, it can be fixed immediately creating customer satisfaction in terms of both the hospital and patient, which is intangible.
Shifting gears, let us tackle the human resource discussion. This conversation can be tricky because a company needs to have professionals with the right skills to ensure IoT can work for them. First, a professional with expertise and experience to develop the services to connect to the data source is needed. Second, a professional is needed to develop the reporting/dashboards and create experiments for predictions.
Addressing the data source connection is solely dependent upon the available application program interface (API) coupled with the programming skills to access the data source and format that is consumable by the data scientist(s) and/or analysts responsible for presenting the information in a report, dashboard or experiment.
Connection work is typically handled by an internal resource because the professional understands the data source APIs and code development procedures. The data analytics work can be delivered internally (assuming the necessary training has been completed) or outsourced, if expertise is required.
As you progress through this effort, it is important to remember start small and basic. Consider taking on one goal and carefully plan to ensure the technology works for your business, resources are in place and there’s cost to value of the project. One small win can turn into many well run projects the derive data to drive business ROI.
Andy Brockett is channel business development manager at Allegient LLC.