Our previous post addresses why your business needs to embrace the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is here. Is your technology stack ready?
It’s now possible to network with just about anything, from your car to a prescription medicine bottle. That opens the door to countless possibilities for new products and services that can make your customers happy and enrich your bottom line.
Your business needs to be ready to capitalize on these opportunities. Here are four areas of your technology stack you can address now to empower an Internet of Things (IoT) solution, in the short or long term.
IoT hardware is not the end game: The profits, margins, and innovations will come from the new products and services built on open, flexible APIs. — Kin Lane, analyst, Gigaom Research
An API (application program interface) is a powerful tool for connecting software together. An API can also integrate with hardware to provide incredible functionality with connected devices.
Your current software needs read/write API that is flexible for a variety of connections. You need to know that this API exists, and you need to have full control to make new connections and needed updates.
The Worthwhile team has heard too many stories of companies whose software developers hold API hostage with exorbitant change fees or code charges. Such a situation would create a huge barrier to entering the IoT world.
Make sure you choose a ‘no regrets’ approach to API development and management. Worthwhile creates RESTful read/write API stubs with every piece of software we build, standard. This is one of the future-proofing steps we use to position our clients to succeed with new initiatives — like IoT.
Back-end systems — servers, storage and networks — must grow into an Internet of Things architecture to support the massive economic transition. From an IT support perspective, the large number of small packets of data coming from multiple directions could cause chaos, said Ed Featherston, director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting…
Without proper planning, “IoT could overwhelm a corporate WAN or [create] bottlenecks at remote or hosted sites. Any IoT devices that have near-real-time needs should absolutely be designed and planned for…”—techtarget.com
Your business hosting network will be tested when you add connected devices, because the volume of data you must handle may increase dramatically.
If you’re not ready, you’re not alone. A June 2015 survey indicated that 30% of networks are already bursting at the seams, before the proliferation of IoT data. Even cloud solutions require planning.
The arrival of the IoT means that you need a proactive network plan — whether it’s managed by internal IT teams or by an external software partner.
Your IoT strategy may also require your business to manage data from different types of connected devices. At a recent conference, we heard a railroad company talk about the challenges of integrating data from new IoT sensors with data from older, wired sensors and even manual reporting. While the data from these sources is collected in very different ways, it’s going into the same database, and it needs to be stored consistently in order to create user-friendly reports and business intelligence.
You need a plan to manage the data that’s coming from all these different sources and in all these different forms. This means taking proactive steps to ensure your web app database is flexible and versatile enough to grow with your business and IoT solutions.
At this point, there is not a standard framework for IoT solutions. You can find options from A to Z, but none have gained true prominence yet.
This is good news, because it gives your business flexibility no matter what platform your current technology stack is. But this flexibility also creates danger. You need a wise internal team and/or a trusted software partner to recommend a platform that will stand the test of time so that your technology isn’t obsolete in a year or two.
Your software partner should also help you find the right IoT platform to match your current software stack. Don’t fall into the trap of reading something great about a platform in Wired (like this article on Artoo) and then trying to implement this Ruby on Rails technology with your Django software stack.
The Bottom Line
Being an early IoT adapter requires smart choices, lest you end up recreating your platform, or your hosting network, or your database, or your API soon after launch. A smart software partner like Worthwhile can help you identify all of your IoT needs and move toward a solution custom fit for your business goals.
In the next part of this series, we’ll focus on wearables and their business impact.