Despite the redoubled efforts made to fix issues, more than half of the IoT projects are considered unsuccessful by their initiators. For some reason, companies often prefer to ignore this fact.

Preparation – Is a Key. How to Address Challenges of IoT Development at Discovery
Preparation – Is a Key. How to Address Challenges of IoT Development at Discovery

Julia Seredovich, Business Operations Manager | PSA

We will never live, make decisions, and conduct business as before – before the advent of the Internet of Things. People for the most part got used to IoT in their daily routine, which formed a stable boost for consumer IoT development. 83% of organizations claimed they enhance operations with IoT, which contributes to extensive Enterprise IoT development. Indeed, this revolutionary paradigm is taking root in the public mind incredibly quickly – so quickly that developments simply cannot keep up with it.


Despite the redoubled efforts made to fix issues, more than half of the IoT projects are considered unsuccessful by their initiators. For some reason, companies often prefer to ignore this fact, relying on the generally positive image of today’s IoT market and emerging trends as a magic wand. This approach ruins many inspiring projects. Fortunately, IoT development now is not the same as 10, 5, or even 3 years ago. In some ways, it became easier thanks to the extensively accumulated baggage of cases, successes, and failures. The key point is that the challenges that drive IoT initiatives into a dead end can usually be solved before they become issues and lead to the failure of the entire project. How can you maximize your efforts at the discovery phase to implement enterprise IoT solutions without a hitch? Let’s dive into robust practices, which help you avoid not only failure but also multiple iterations.


Preparation for IoT Development – What Does It Mean?

A wild number of EIoT projects get stuck at the PoC stage. This reveals obvious errors and oversights during the initiation phase. The issues turn out to be so significant that IoT initiators often refuse to continue the project at all. However, as they say, failure for one is a priceless experience for another. There is no way to do without this in IoT development project – learn how to fall to rise later.


To competently approach the addressing of current IoT-related issues, you should first define them. Preparing to develop an IoT application requires solving not only strategic issues such as market coverage, business modeling, or determining KPIs but also technical issues such as communication protocols and components required. Build your IoT development roadmap after diving into the following questions:

  • What market scale am I going to cover with a new IoT product? How much effort is this worth to my company?

  • Have I chosen the optimal business model? Can I supplement it without compromising quality?

  • What technical challenges are my immediate or potential competitors facing? How relevant are these problems to me?

  • How will the data be used in my application? Can I guarantee their quality?

  • How mature are the technologies I am going to implement? Can I guarantee reliability when implementing cutting-edge technologies?


The key to IoT app development is to approach it with a holistic vision. After all, when developing an application, you are developing not only a technical implementation but a use case.


Working Proactively at the Initial Phase of IoT Development Project

Balance Use Cases and Your Capabilities

According to the research, the most successful IoT adopters were those who developed more use cases offering various options for utilizing IoT products to their customers. However, expertise is the key factor in developing IoT use cases, which allows for their high-quality implementation. Let us share a piece of advice for established firms that have decided to scale to IoT. If your technical expertise in IoT is insufficient, don't double your challenges by trying to jump into new markets right away. Adhere to the field you are an expert in, brainstorming on IoT enablement there. Your industry knowledge is extremely valuable in determining IoT benefits for your audience. This makes the chance of success 3 times higher than if you start mastering “terra incognita”.


Look at IoT implementation as a continuous process, a full-fledged story with its beginning, culmination, and denouement. At the end of the story, we should have advanced products, numerous cases, changed business processes, and a constant profit flow. However, to come to this point, you need to start small. Focus first on several use cases, work them out, test the PoC, and set up processes for the team. Scaling or not? Yes, and yes again, but only after you gain a foothold in IoT regarding selected cases. Start small while making scalability a part of the overall IoT strategy from the very beginning.


Be Realistic about Upcoming Investments

When calculating the budget for IoT development, it is very easy to miss several items. Budget overlimiting – is one of the common reasons for the EIoT project collapse. To not sink through this, the following tips will be helpful:

  • Consider various indirect costs. While calculating the one-time costs for components, engineering, infrastructure, etc., do not forget to take into account expenses for upgrading the team’s skills, licenses and subscriptions, cybersecurity measures, and other regular services.

  • Quantify business goals. IoT components should not be implemented as an experiment. You need to estimate desired KPIs precisely and strive for the goals step-by-step. Make an IoT development flexible to have a space to adjust development strategy utilizing the IoT data collected from users’ devices. 

  • Consider uncertainty. The IoT ecosystem is dynamic, diverse and interacts with the physical world, which makes it impossible to be 100% predictable, and therefore 100% performative. Recommend to evaluate the BEP in intervals and set aside an additional budget for unforeseen expenses.


Think out the Connectivity Issues within IoT Development

Connectivity remains the biggest concern in IoT development, reaching 47% of all IoT-related concerns. It makes it very likely that you will face it too. Unfortunately, some remarkable initiatives are winding down only because it turns out that mobile network coverage is simply not enough in a given area. It primarily concerns logistics and mining solutions, as well as all those in hard-to-reach areas.


Solving connectivity issues means establishing stable and secure data transfer. To do this, you need to accurately assess the remoteness of the devices’ locations and their positions relative to each other; the required speed of data transfer and acceptable delay; available local power, and the required level of security. Wireless communications in particular often require a high degree of customization and pre-planning, and always will.


Compatibility plays an essential role in communication problems. This is especially true for manufacturing solutions, which must be compatible with legacy systems and protocols, respectively. Taking care of this in the product in advance will give you a head start over similar solutions from your competitors. Security of systems by default, and setting up multi-level security is also welcome. IoT solutions are used in networks where the vulnerability of one node extends to the entire network. It is also important to ensure convenience for scaling the network with your products.


Not By the Cloud Anone – Consider Variable Future

Monitoring trends and keeping abreast of innovations, you may get the feeling that any other server besides the cloud is almost bad manners. In reality, cloud deployment is not as untroubled as it might seem. In complex and busy IoT networks, the cloud creates network delays, deprives speed, and creates more security concerns. Well known to developers, these facts may come as a surprise to businesses and suddenly emerge as the network scales. Therefore, edge and fog computing has been actively developing in recent years, allowing data to be processed closer to its source. For example, AI can be placed on an edge device, creating a full-fledged defects tracking system that does not require a connection to the cloud. Given today’s capacities, it can be quite performative.


This approach is especially useful in the industrial sector and wherever  real-time operations are set-up.


Don’t Shun 3rd-party Assistance

According to statistics, companies that resorted to the help of third parties were almost 2 times more likely to succeed than those who decided to develop exclusively in-house. For optimized benefits, you should find a custom balance between internal and external development forces. As a rule, companies decide to keep business development for themselves, while outsourcing IoT development. This scheme is best suited for established firms that have decided to scale through IoT. In this case, it is that large companies should focus on the specific required experience of the outsourcer rather than on the size of the potential partner.


For startups, the balance of power will be different. Often companies and technical innovators who are ready to present their inventions to the masses lack business experience or knowledge of the IoT market. For those companies, consulting services, fractional CTO, commercialization support, and so on would be indispensable.


Don’t Miss out on Benefits – Think Again on the Business Model

It is not a fact that even your quite successful IoT initiative is maximized. Of course, lost profits are not something that will shut your project down, but can slow the development down. IoT has offered many revolutionary business models, be it asset-sharing, everything-as-a-service, or advanced razor-blade. You've certainly chosen the one that best suits your product, but let IoT be one step ahead of you. For example, by collecting data about the use of your product from IoT sensors, it will be easier for you to improve it, receiving expected and unexpected feedback.


Moreover, you can get additional benefits from the data itself. For example, data from user devices can then be sold or analyzed and further sold in the form of structured reports. In general, various models are perfectly combined for IoT, creating new custom values.


The Main Thing - Is to Know and Remember Why You Started IoT Development

Despite the influence of technical and concept nuances of IoT, until now the number one challenge of the IoT development has been and remains in the business field – initiatives are not aligned with business goals. The correct definition of business goals is a guideline that will help solve the most diverse challenges at various stages of development.


Therefore, prepare in advance for the following:

  1. Highlight the outcomes. Prove that the IoT initiative will support business goals and is consistent with the company’s mission. Among the common outcomes, we can highlight increased income, reduced costs, increased security and productivity, as well as optimized data utilization. Analyze and define KPIs reflecting goals’ achievement. 

  2. Determine the requirements and scope of work. Having defined your goals, conduct detailed market research and determine the optimal technical implementation of your product. List the features, functions, and performance of your IoT products and their components, be they sensors, networks, platforms, or applications. 

  3. Communicate the concept accurately to the team and the 3rd party. There should be no disagreements or discrepancies in the vision of the future product. This will help with identifying technologies and will allow you to solve emerging problems faster and more accurately.


Everything that was missed during preparation will come out during development or exploitation. Remember this from the very beginning and IoT development project will go as seamless as possible.

Julia Seredovich works as a Business Operations Manager at PSA. She is eager to solve clients’ business challenges by building full-fledged IoT ecosystems. Having 10+ years' experience in the IoT development industry, Julia has been involved in projects in the Automotive, Energy, Logistics, & other domains.
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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