News about IoT consumer applications, like fitness monitors and smart glasses, attract a lot of attention. However, McKinsey estimates that B2B uses can generate nearly 70 percent of potential value enabled by IoT. At least if you know how to successfully leverage the value of IoT platforms. In this blog post, we’ll specifically talk about Industrial IoT (IIoT). The IIoT platform market is ready to improve asset management decision making and operational decision making. It is up to you to take into account the following 4 best practices to successfully implement Industrial IoT in your business.
1. Review your business model to unlock IIoT potential
Being successful in the IIoT era means much more than technology connectivity. Often people find a technology that raises their interest and based on this, a use case is developed. However, before pursuing an IIoT strategy, it is important to get your business ready for this.
Firstly, this means getting your team IoT-ready. Employees might need to be reskilled and need to adopt new habits as their roles change. As PwC points out, it is crucial to discuss and understand the degree of operational change required and the challenges it brings along.
Secondly, it requires mapping your business needs to implement an IIoT solution. You need to gain a deep understanding of the solutions suitable for your use case. Do you want to combine different solutions or would you like an end-to-end solution that is easy to integrate into existing processes? How well does the vendor’s network coverage fit your business initiatives? How is the vendor handling the monitoring and segmenting of IoT devices in the field? All these questions need to be taken into consideration.
Therefore, it is important to understand that laying everything on the table and reconsidering how your business wants to leverage IIoT is a must. Only by doing this, you find a solution that fits your needs and helps you keep that competitive edge.
2. Create a well-defined POC to validate the project’s feasibility
If you set-up a research team or digital innovation lab, you need to have a clear strategic goal in mind. Otherwise, the Proof of Concept will miss focus and will not have the hoped value. Furthermore, for IIoT to positively impact your business, it needs to be aligned with the overall business and technology strategy.
IIoT sensors gather huge amounts of data and if you know how to use this to your advantage, it can support decision making and trigger actions. As Gartner points out, we are moving from an ongoing trend of connecting assets to connecting processes. In other words, you move from “Where are my assets?” and “Which assets are currently in use?” to “How to optimize rotation times?” and “How to optimize maintenance?”
Forget about standalone data, IoT data becomes meaningful when linking it to your internal business logic and strategic goals. So, that’s why a well-defined Proof of Concept is crucial. With a Proof of Concept, you can identify the feasibility and impact of your IoT project. Moreover, it allows you to do this at 10-15% of the total development cost.
Connecting these business processes is something we actively incorporate in our asset tracking solution at Sensolus. In our user friendly web application, you can analyze the gathered data about asset location and usage in custom dashboards to optimize the rotation, maintenance planning, etc. of your assets. Furthermore, you can tag trackers and geozones to fit your own terminology.
But how can you know in advance whether the potential vendor will work with you to fulfill your well-defined POC? Firstly, this depends on what you can test during the POC. Can you test the full solution? Secondly, this depends on the duration, is the POC long enough to finetune your business case and tweak testing possibilities? Thirdly, are you actively involved in defining the optimal configuration of the solution? And lastly, does the vendor support you with their expertise to handle the POC in the best possible way?
Therefore, a POC is crucial to identify potential challenges and validate the feasibility of your IoT project on a smaller scale before scaling it.
3. Carefully map the timing for a successful roll-out
Rolling out an IIoT solution typically takes much longer than expected. As Gartner states, people who implement IoT projects often underestimate the complexity of IoT integration and overestimate the built-in integration capabilities of their IoT platforms. So, before you start with the actual roll-out it is essential to map the timing.
To map the timing you first need to evaluate the POC results and check whether you can alter the solution in such a way to get the exact data you need. Furthermore, it is important to verify whether the roll-out will happen with minimal risk and maximum efficiency (easy activation, installation planning, API pre-activation, etc.).
Also, don’t forget to check whether security best practices are followed, such as employing a secure boot process or using encryption keys. This will avoid security hiccups later on. Lastly, check how the production and logistics are handled.
Businesses often rank implementing IIoT as one of their top three challenges. A carefully mapped timing will help you navigate more easily through the implementation of an IIoT solution.
4. Check whether an agile approach is guaranteed
Once you’ve chosen your vendor and successfully rolled out the entire project, you don’t want to be left in the cold. Continuous service and a thorough evaluation of the project to ensure it still fits your needs is essential to keep getting value from an IIoT solution.
An advantage of IIoT is that the technology in itself is constantly improving as existing products evolve and new categories emerge. However, you should remain critical about the possibilities to adjust the way you use a solution over time as needs change.
At Sensolus we are well-aware of the fact that needs change over time. We’ve experienced throughout the years that once everything is up and running, new questions arise and additional use cases pop-up. That’s one of the reasons why we offer a modular solution.
One of our customers, Volvo Cars Ghent, started with GPS positioning only and added BLE for warehouse management later on. Because the BLE component is always present in our low-power GPS tracker, they didn’t need to uninstall and reinstall any trackers but just update the firmware. This is one example of how we take into account changing needs.
An assurance you can build in for yourself is getting acquainted with the product roadmap. This gives you an idea of the features that are not available yet but would be nice to have in the future. If they are on the roadmap, this can enforce the fit of a certain solution with your business needs.
Checking whether your IIoT solution remains agile, even when you’ve adopted the solution, will help you ensure that there’s a fit with both your business’ current and future needs.
Hopefully, these industrial IoT best practices can already point you in the right direction when it comes to implementing Industrial IoT. Do you already have a specific use case in mind? And you’re looking for IoT expertise to guide you with testing and building a solid business case? Then don’t hesitate to shoot our IoT experts a message.
2 Gartner, “Magic Quadrant for Industrial IoT Platforms”, June 2019
3 Gartner, “Strategic roadmap for successful enterprise IoT journeys”, 2017