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Is your organisation ‘IoT ready’?

Mon 6 Jan 2020 | Alex Wilkinson

IoT offers rich possibilities to the modern enterprise, but it’s important CTOs think through these key considerations before diving in

The Internet of Things (IoT) may still be in its relative infancy, but it’s gradually building apace – as more enterprises begin to uncover the power it possesses when looking to harness data.

From manufacturing to healthcare, or logistics to financial services, more industries are becoming aware of its critical capability to process and convert information into rich, meaningful real-time analytics, in order to do everything from flagging potential issues with infrastructure to tracking demand for services and understanding consumer behaviour.

IoT adoption shows no signs of slowing down either, as its implementation has proved to have helped many firms stay ahead of the curve and have the correct operational efficiencies in place – all of which can be adapted, and evolved, to successfully provide useful knowledge to operate more efficiently in a challenging economic climate.

Statistics back up this shift towards having a multifunctional system in place too. For example, Vodafone’s sixth IoT Barometer reports that 34 percent of the businesses surveyed are now adopters, and 84 perecent of these have increased confidence in IoT compared to the previous survey. In addition, 60 percent of organisations believe that it will have completely disrupted the industry in which they operate in just five years’ time.

Can enterprises even begin to ignore such prominent figures when it comes to finalising 2020 IT and business strategies? And are they in a position to understand the benefits and implement IoT effectively?

What are the advantages of IoT?

Whether dissecting data to help recognise a customer’s online journey – or providing a solution for supply chain management – IoT offers a self-sufficient solution across a variety of sectors.

When it comes to delving into how it can boost a firm’s offering, it’s important to acknowledge where the organisation stands in terms of its current provision of technology, before proceeding towards the installation of something new.

For those able to venture into the next phase of implementation, a business-savvy starting point is to conduct a Readiness Assessment. Done in-house, or via an external partner, this audit can help a company underline why it thinks it needs IoT and how it will be of benefit.

To determine this a business should ask itself, ‘Why are we interested in this development?’, ‘Which competitors are utilising it in the same space?’, and ‘Whereabouts in the company’s current technology strategy roadmap does IoT fit in?’.

As part of this discovery and fact-finding phase, enterprises are able to define priority gains and further conduct competitor analysis – and utilise ‘best practice’ methods – in order to ensure a seamless IoT transition.

There are three further elements to consider too:

Does the firm have management go-ahead?

A defining part of IoT transformation is achieving C-suite buy-in. Without this, any digital development can fall flat without the budget, support and correct personnel in place to deliver it.

Everyone may not immediately jump at the chance to transfer data over a network without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction, because of the lack of information available – but this is improving week by week. Therefore, it’s vital for leaders to be given all the details surrounding why IoT will make the business more secure and streamlined – and stay ahead of the curve.

What is the current technological provision?

Concerning the infrastructure already in place, does the organisation have the capacity to grow or change the IoT ecosystem with ease so it can build new apps or add integrations? And what technological devices in its existing suite of digital developments are ultimately compatible with IoT?

Additionally, does the company know what the considerations are around selecting either a public cloud hosting solution or a private version? The main differentiator being that organisations won’t be responsible for any of the management of a public cloud implementation. The governance and type of industry an organisation is operating within is likely to have some sway over what type of cloud utilised. Many organisations will look towards a multi-cloud arrangement to provide a more tailored approach.

Of paramount importance, is security. During this part of the discovery phase, there’s the opportunity to understand whether an organisation is taking ownership of building its own IoT offering or utilising an As-a-Service (AaS) model instead. At this point, KPIs and drivers for that data can be set, so that the correct metrics are in place to make sure every requirement is met.

Knowing what is needed – and what can already be utilised to keep costs and disruption down – will help identify the exact stage a company is currently at. Organisations should consider what applications are already in place, how much data processing is needed, what will take place at the Edge or be moved to the cloud, and which analytics are best used.

Getting the right team in place

Alongside any element of digital disruption, it’s vital that the internal team works together, in order to provide a seamless transformation to IoT provision. Experienced and specialist IoT consultants can be critical towards this success – they understand how the build will take shape, the electrical engineering required, and can impart knowledge of IT, cloud, networking and data analytics to upskill their colleagues in how to effectively utilise the modern system.

If the right skills are not available internally, organisations can work with a managed service partner to identify the savvy professionals needed, in order to deliver the project, end-to-end.

Overall, IoT can add a variety of advantages to a firm. However, to control budgets, show value and maximise benefits, a cost-effective route is to begin with a small pilot which can be implemented to uncover the true need for digital transformation. That way, an organisation should have all the vital information to hand, in order to make a decision into exactly what is needed – and utilise IoT’s benefits to the full.

Experts featured:

Alex Wilkinson

COO
Solutionize Global

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