IoT is the buzzword today. Everyone is jumping into this ocean. Few words of caution if you are among those.
#1 IoT existed for over 15 years at least
There was functional IoT system in year 2000 (at least in Honeywell where I worked at that time). Whatever I contributed falls within today’s IoT definition scope. There was device communications layer. Add some analytics after observing few use cases – you readily have entire IoT stack – from solution perspective.
#2 IoT claims that it is not just about device talking on internet. But about data analysis from those devices. All these are new
The analytics also existed for several years for now. In home, buildings and industrial applications I am associated with, these existed. Also there are many other industries with smart devices and analytics. Drawing patterns from use cases and results require good strength in domain and market understanding.
#3 IoT is a side show in any given industry. The real innovation on “things” is more impactful
The true benefits would come from innovations on devices. If it is an air quality sensor, what would be the fundamental change in the way it does its job better? Does it sense more parameters while determining quality? or can it be more compact due to better sensing technique? How about the energy needs?
Connectivity and using this data in central analytics are required. But the level of analytics is rather basic.
Due to the hype, all stakeholders end up focusing on wrong priorities. It is a problem.
#4 Interconnecting the devices had been a business problem, not a technical problem
For buildings, you have Lontalk, BACnet, Zigbee and many more. For industrial needs, Profibus, field bus, HART, Wireless HART to name the major ones.
How is connectivity a business problem? To give example, consider a campus with multiple automation systems – air conditioning and access control. Different buildings would come up at different timeline. The contracts for individual systems could go to different vendors due to their considerations. Each of the vendors has their own integration solutions. The solutions offer all the great features offered by IoT. Still, it is hard to sell ‘integration’. The seller has to prove that there is real value. The buyer is facilities person who is always low on budget. When one integrator wins the project, there is challenge to get support from all the device vendors.
With all the struggle, keeping the integrated solution operational and proving its useful to all stakeholder is a huge challenge.
#5 IoT is not an industry. Simply few additional use cases and few more solution building blocks to existing industry verticals
As mentioned, ‘things’ existed for very long time. Smart, connected things existed for decades now. The centralized software with maps also existed for long time in segments like plants and smart campuses. The cloud, map with better GUI like Google map instead of proprietary primitive maps. For most part these do not add extra use cases. Due to smart phone revolution, few of the use cases are affordable now, though they existed before.
Thinking that something new is being created now would derail you. Hence, study the past, learn what worked, what did not. Then re-align your plans.
#6 It is causing people to create a solution first and then look for good problems
IoT is sold as a new paradigm, new industry etc. Many IoT startups are funded. Many tech workshops get setup. This will lead to ‘good solutions hunting for right problems’. This should have been the other way.
Instead, look at reducing energy usage without any emotional attachment to IoT or cloud. Or say how to handle urban waste management end-to-end. Or any other problem worth solving. The solution that comes out may have some IoT element.
That is – we should see more water management tech companies, energy optimization companies etc. which probably use IoT layers. Not IoT companies.
Knowing these would help to increase chances of success, if you are chasing IoT dream.
Best of luck.