For many across the Northern Hemisphere, this time of year welcomes new growth. Farmers have recently planted crops and many individuals find great reward in growing gardens and other plants. I was lucky to grow up in such a place where farmland was abundant (my childhood hometown happens to be known as the “Corn Capital of Canada”, and the corn is AMAZING!).
Critical to all growth is the soil wherein the seed is planted. Many agricultural studies have been done to examine the effects of soil conditions on crop yields, and unsurprisingly, the results are consistently staggering. In most cases, and investment in soil fertility doubles or triples crop yields, yielding a hefty return on investment. Much can be learned from the most ancient of industries as we make the relation to the Internet of Things (IoT). I know how real the temptation is to simply cultivate the land and drop in a few seeds alongside some water and a sprinkle of hope.
Unfortunately, many companies today take a very similar approach to growing and developing their IoT businesses. Many look at the fruits of others, hoping to have similar results without properly preparing the “soil”. In the IoT, there is a great diversity of components that go into a successful deployment of an IoT solution. Here are a few key upfront considerations:
The Ever-Clichéd Big Data
Determine upfront exactly what data is needed and how it will be valued or monetized. Many IoT solutions attempt to take flight without a proper flight plan. Knowing what value the data holds within an organization is the first step in planting that seed – it will ensure that the next decisions that are made allow for a profitable solution.
Of course I will say that this is the area of highest importance. But really, it is ;). Selecting the best connectivity type and protocol for your solution will make all the difference in technical longevity and long-term profitability. Many companies that are now feeling the effects of network sunsetting will affirm the importance of this point.
I once heard of a company that went ahead and built the hardware piece of their IoT solution before considering the previous point and they ended up with a cellular CDMA module and a connectivity contract with a GSM carrier. Not a good ending. Make sure that your hardware is designed with not only the proper specifications to handle its environment, but also allows for the proper technical inputs and outputs over the long-term.
While there are several other components (application framework, device management, etc..), these considerations will help ensure that your “soil” provides a healthy place for you IoT solution to grow and expand.