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How to overcome common obstacles in IoT implementations

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Organizations are making massive investments in the Internet of Things and implementing those solutions across the enterprise. Connected devices can support care delivery, patient monitoring, improve information flow to clinicians, and optimize the supply chain, energy consumption or production.

In many cases, the organizations deploying more robust IoT processes are aware that IT must bear a heavy burden to integrate the devices. In some other cases, they may not understand what they are undertaking.

Organizations now realize that implementing interconnected, cross-platform IoT solutions can create data and, thus knowledge, that drives down costs. It is much faster and cost-effective within the enterprise to innovate within than by introducing a new product to market. It just needs to be done correctly.

IoT solutions are making analyzing data more useful. For example, an IoT solution can not only drive down costs, but it is also helping eliminate breakdowns that could IT time and resources.

What follows is a roadmap that can help organizations implement IoT initiatives successfully.

Implementing IoT on the small-scale first

When IoT implementation does not work, it is likely because organizations either push IoT solutions at a scale that stretches engineering capabilities or moves too fast to integrate IoT technologies into a current system.

Best practices for implementing new IoT solutions is to do so in a small, self-contained project. Once it is successful, then it can be scaled across the enterprise. IT executives need to find a self-contained project, implement an IoT solution and then show value—then it can be scaled be more ambitious.

IoT project management and implementation for existing systems

A common mistake that causes deployment projects to fail is the absence of a strategy to support the teams tasked with integrating a new technology into an existing system. For new IoT initiatives to be successful, teams across the entire enterprise need buy in. This undertaking, done right, can transform a organization.

One good way to do this with the IT team is to mirror current software development methodologies — such as SCRUM — while incorporating new IoT processes. This is a great alternative to trying to retrain and re-educate. Using a framework familiar to engineering teams will have immense benefits for developers implementing IoT projects into existing structures.

Leveraging the SCRUM framework, for example, the developers will be hands on with the project and will have daily contact with how IoT is making life better for the end user and other enterprise applications. And, most importantly, they will be working with the IoT processes as a team.

This learning-by-doing at the initial stage of deployment enables software developers to understand the business issues and translate that into the software. Basically, getting buy in and working with the new IoT solutions right away will reveal the business reasons—and the importance—behind the undertaking of new projects.

Optimizing IoT implementations across the organization

Failure often comes when organizations try to implement IoT too broadly or too quickly.

Just like any process, if the proper steps are taken, organizations can integrate IoT quite successfully. Here are the three phases to IoT implementation that work best.

• The first phase is to learn how to manage the new IoT environment. Whether you are connecting a few or a whole fleet of machines, you need to understand how the technology works. To do this, it is best to connect data in discrete application servers, condition monitoring and alarm management. The new technology needs to manage the lifecycle. First manage the separate discrete project and discrete application, learning through the process.

• The second phase is finding where the potential for failure lies within that new environment. Once the organization knows how it works on its platform and where the problems could arise, you can then integrate the solution into existing IT systems and ERP systems.

• The third phase is when the project becomes more efficient. The IoT solution is improving the processes and increasing cross-enterprise coordination. At this point, an organization can innovate around the new technology and implement predictive maintenance and AI initiatives. This is the innovation phase.

When I think about what enterprises do wrong, I see they often go into the third phase—seeking the most innovative benefits of an IoT solution—before they have implemented phase one and phase two. They underestimate the challenges in running a IoT project, in particular, the strain on the existing system and the teams charged with deployment.

Successful IoT implementations benefit everyone across the enterprise. They create opportunities for innovation, enable data to be leveraged in ways that predict and prevent time-consuming system failures, and, most importantly, increase integration between operations, IT, and the technology. Successful IoT integrations use proven strategies and avoid the missteps mentioned above. The best way to do that is by leveraging existing technologies developed to support the integration process.

New IoT technologies have the potential transform organizations and there operations. If done by a coordinated effort, that transformation can be a success. If no strategy or ready-made solution supports the integration of a new technology, the project is likely to fail.

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