Previous blogs have described the Building Blocks of AWS IoT and how to use them to Developing IoT Solutions.This blob will describe how you use these to actually Implement complete IoT solutions.
What is the big deal with implementing IoT Solutions – you just construct and build them? Easier said than done. Like building a new factory or store, the building part is often easy. Implementing it across a business is more difficult as it needs to address the ‘why’ of IoT.
An IoT Solution is there to be used and provide value. Examples range easier to use products, better performance, new product attributes to information that assists all users whether an end customer, a distributor, a service organization or a corporation using the IoT solution for many parts of their business. Implementing an IoT solution to meet all these different needs require some rudimentary planning and focus on these different users and needs during the implementation. The best way to accomplish this is to establish an IoT implementation team that works hand in hand with the people actually building/constructing the IoT solution. Putting a manager in charge of the overall success of the IoT implementation whose job it is to make sure that all interests are addressed and hopefully met. A common mistake is to appoint a technical person for this task instead of a IoT Implementation Manager with broad insights of all aspects of the business including customer relationships, sales and operations. Let us look at four areas that the IoT Implementation function should focus on and address:
Customers/Users: Customer advocate is an often-misused concept that supposedly addresses a lack of customer focus when in fact every competitive business is dependent on their customers/users satisfaction with what is being offered. In IoT this is extra important as many early IoT solutions were difficult to use and associated with issues like privacy and compliance. The IoT implementation manager can put this function front and center by forcing interactions with real customers and implementing friendly customer interactions, focus groups and early testing. As the technical development team is using an Agile process (a must in IoT), customer reactions can be implemented on short notice so that when the IoT solution is finished, it is thoroughly customer tested. This approach is easily extended to sales and distribution so that these functions have a say in how the final IoT implementation functions and looks.
Support: One of the core use cases of IoT is the ability to understand how products are used (for product management/engineering) and through remote diagnostics and upgrades be able to provide better support than in the non-IoT case. However, this will only happen if support is made a core part of the IoT implementation meaning integration with existing customer support systems and functions. One example would be developing an IoT application (web or mobile) that allows a support representative to immediately see the current and past status of an IoT product and solution. Next is ability to run diagnostics and maybe even fix problems. Good support and customer service leads to customer satisfaction and the right IoT solution implementation will go a long way towards improving quality and enhance customer experience. Once implemented, it can be easily extended and improved over time.
Operations: When a company introduces IoT in their business, it suddenly adds hundreds of connected products/solutions and associated web/mobile applications that need to be monitored and managed. The most obvious oversight is to not implement an IoT Operations Function where IoT products and connectivities and applications can be monitored on a 7/24 basis. The physical implementation of this is one of these rooms with large monitors with the status of all IoT solution parts shown in real time. Next step is to be able to actually manage the IoT Implementation from a set of applications that diagnose and pinpoint problems and even allow fixes and resolution. In many companies an operations function like this does not exist before IoT and has to be funded and created from scratch. Once in place, it will be a necessary but valuable contribution to the business.
Business Integration; Initial ideas about IoT often involve better products/services/applications or solving some specific use case for monitoring/tracking/control. Often later later comes the understanding the IoT has the ability to transform any business by providing data and information and insights simply not available before. This may happen because the IoT solution itself provides them, but in most cases integration with existing business systems is the key to gain the insights and efficiencies that well designed IoT implementations can provide. The most obvious initial integrations are with customer support and sales systems but more indirect integrations of IoT derived information combined with information from other business systems will provide payoffs in areas like product design/engineering, manufacturing/operations and even finance and general management. With IoT the dream of knowing how my business or functioning is doing can be realized through well designed IoT applications. In a well run IoT implementation effort business integration will be on par with other aspects, not an afterthought.
Implementing an IoT Solution often takes the back seat of more technology-oriented technology building blocks and construction/engineering of the technical IoT Solution. This is a mistake that can be avoided by creating a separate non-technical implementation function led by experienced managers with broad business expertise. At Triotos, we focus on building and constructing complete deployable IoT solutions freeing our customers to focus on the actual Implementation. Working hand-in-hand with their implementation teams the results are modern IoT solutions designed for their business needs. To find out more about the Triotos IoT/Application platform go to web site and contact us for more information.