Business enterprises are adopting Internet of Things technology at a rapid rate: A recent Business Insider report predicts that by 2019, 39% of IoT device usage will be attributable to businesses. That’s a greater proportion than homes or government organizations, the two other major sectors where IoT technology is gaining traction.
Most of these businesses already have robust internal IT departments, and they may assume that it should be a simple process for their internal teams to source and implement IoT technology that will be an ideal fit for their use cases. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
Here’s a look at some of the challenges that organizations often face when they try to adopt a new IoT solution without relying on assistance from an experienced consultant:
1. Your staff doesn’t know how to manage an IoT implementation (and it’s taking too much time to get up to speed).
Staffing challenges come in two flavors: know-how and numbers. Since IoT is a rather specialized area, many companies find it challenging to recruit or retain professionals who are well versed in building and subsequently scaling a program. But the larger problem can be the resources it devours: one company with whom we now work, SealedAir, had been in the early stages of their IoT efforts when they reached out to us. Staffing was one of the first red flags that alerted them they needed a fix: Even before their IoT efforts were fully implemented, their solution was requiring the efforts of four internal employees. Outsourcing is a strategic way to free up internal staff to do what they’re best at.
2. The technology costs add up quickly.
The technology can be very costly from both a time-to-market and resource standpoint when a company is creating and implementing its own solution. In addition to building infrastructure for storing the data, including hosted servers and databases that they maintain themselves, the solution has to be custom built on top.
Frequently, a business project becomes an IT project, and at the end of the day, even when companies find the tech solution, it often doesn’t deliver what the business is looking for. That’s where a consultancy can be a ready answer. We already have a solution—typically cloud-based—that can be modified to meet the client’s customized needs, along with tools and a ready framework.
3. Scaling can cause performance problems.
Collecting and storing data is one thing, but trying to scale the solution to reach 1,000 or 10,000 assets is another. That’s where we typically see performance issue problems and escalating costs, as companies realize that their data storage and analysis solutions are less than adequate. With a consultancy, however, you’ll find that once a prototype solution has been developed, the added fees to scale your efforts won’t be significant.
Another more insidious scaling issue arises when a company seeks to augment its data collection with new points. A very common problem we see is that IT builds something based on the stated business requirements, and then the business decides it wants to add additional features. The problem is that any time a company wants to add a new piece of functionality, it essentially becomes a completely new project, and costs can go up exponentially, where a consultancy has the systems in place to easily pivot as needed.
4. You aren’t deriving business value from your data insights.
And, finally, we saved the best for last: The chief reason that companies outsource their IoT is new vision. What we’ve found is that many companies think they want to measure one metric, and then they find out that their business strategy is better supported when they measure something else. For example, we typically see a project that was implemented to improve operational efficiency, but then we find secondary value in the data that becomes even higher than the initial driver.
Case in point: SealedAir had connected their soap dispensers in an effort to track the need for refills as they became low. But as we considered the data we were collecting, we hit on some other points to track. For example, one dispenser in a supermarket deli showed it was only being used three times a day, when, based on employee volume, it should have been used more like 20 times a day. When we alerted SealedAir to this issue, they opted to conduct a weekly hygiene review, and the dispenser’s usage skyrocketed. As employees realized they were being monitored, their compliance improved, which clearly is much more valuable than the data itself.
We also were able to use the data in public restrooms to track traffic patterns. When soap dispenser use spiked, the company knew they had to service the restroom more frequently which improved customer service. In both these cases, the company started out monitoring for usage, but was able to use the same data to address two critical business issues.
The ThingLogix difference
We know and appreciate that the urge to DIY runs deep. In fact, we actually have discovered that some of our best customers are those who initially wanted to try IoT themselves, but were hampered by the challenges above.
While many IoT companies might offer a technology solution—connecting the device and gathering data—the ThingLogix value lies in the last challenge, that of interpreting the data to address business issues. Technology is a commodity and in many ways, the easiest part of this equation. At ThingLogix, our goal is to help organizations take advantage of the data to create additional business drivers. The critical part of IoT is not just collecting data, but delivering results.