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Lou Lutostanski, VP, Internet of Things, Avnet
Technology has outpaced the human imagination in becoming more accessible, inexpensive, and high-performing than we ever thought possible. Take e-readers as an example, and how far we have come –from the humble Rocket eBook in the late 90s, and now, the Amazon Kindle.
Such advances have given rise to the Internet of Things (IoT), a technology ecosystem that promises to connect –anything from a coffee machine to a jet engine– to the Internet. According to a forecast by Gartner, this will amount to over 20 billion connected devices by 2020, fuelled by the pervasiveness of the Internet globally.
However, IoT goes beyond technology. At its core is the massive potential in transforming and creating new wealth avenues for businesses.
While businesses are aware of the vast opportunities that IoT presents, many organizations have been apprehensive with regards to adoption, due to the risks and challenges involved in its implementation.
Thus, in order for businesses to accelerate innovation by harnessing IoT, they have to overcome three key challenges – getting stakeholder buy-in, implementation and lifecycle management.
Getting Stakeholder Buy-In
Making the case for the adoption of IoT is often the first challenge that organizations face, especially when dealing with apprehensive stakeholders, who may believe that limitations, including high initial set up costs and difficulties in implementation, outweigh the benefits.
This is where ecosystem partners come into play, to guide organizations on how best to implement IoT and demonstrate its utility within the business by showcasing the likely outcomes that can be achieved.
Within organizations, it is equally important to have business leaders who understand the need for business transformation and who are supportive of developing IoT infrastructure to enable this.
In order for businesses to accelerate innovation by harnessing IoT, they have to overcome three key challenges – getting stakeholder buy-in, implementation and lifecycle management
To explain IoT simply, it is the convergence of Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) technologies. This enables more direct control and complete monitoring by facilitating easier data analysis from these systems from anywhere in the world.
Given this level of complexity, businesses often find that implementations may involve up to 10 to 20 employees each time. Understandably, this may raise concerns of not having sufficient resources, and thereafter, needing to look for a third-party ecosystem partner that they can count on.
Yet, this can result in tangible benefits to the organization if they are able to leverage the process, methodology and the relevant experience of the solution provider. This will be possible if they find an able partner to provide an end-to-end solution tailored to their organization’s requirements. More importantly, one that has the relevant industry know-how, including how to avoid implementation risks and ensure that regulations are complied with, in order to effectively and efficiently embark on the implementation of IoT.
Recently we worked with MedloTek Health Systems, a developer of a patient monitoring system that was seeking a suitable partner to implement its VinCense system, comprising of a wearable that measures pulse rate, oxygen saturation, respiration rate and skin temperature, and an application that sends out alerts to five pre-configured numbers if the vitals go out of range. This included consultation on developing critical software stacks, as well as, engineering and consulting expertise to MedIoTek’s design team, from concept to the final solution.
The third and final challenge involves the maintenance and updating of IoT systems and devices once the infrastructure is in place. This includes device management and firmware updates, which are crucial for enabling new functions and features to be added once a product has been implemented in the field, or to fix any firmware issues during usage. Businesses must build flexibility into their products to meet the evolving IoT ecosystem as new functionalities and regulations are adopted.
As with the challenge of implementation, this can be easily addressed by working with the right ecosystem partner to mitigate associated risks and costs that may traditionally be required to update and upkeep IoT systems.
Moving Forward with IoT
The promise of IoT remains unchanged, from subtle efficiencies to disrupting industries and creating global economic impact, but it still is in its early days currently.
While technology is no longer a limiting factor, organizations must first ensure they have the right infrastructure in place, stakeholder support and the right partner on board before they can effectively embark on implementation.