10 Things I Learned from 10 Years in IoT
My journey into the world of IoT began about 10 years ago during my internship at a hospital in Boston. It was there that I began working with sensors designed to monitor the movements of patients within the hospital facilities. This was my initial step into the “Internet of Things”.
Over the years, I’ve made use of IoT to establish remote connections in the telecommunications sector and to monitor electrical grids. In the past five years, I’ve used IoT to make buildings more intelligent and got the chance to observe IoT in action in several other industries (wearables, agriculture, smart homes, smart factories,…).
Although a decade might seem like a long period, it has felt as though it has passed in the blink of an eye. In this article, I will share with you 10 insights I’ve gained over the past 10 years. The opinions expressed are my own.
IoT isn’t just the intersection of IT and OT; it’s a force multiplier.
IoT brings a world where devices communicate seamlessly, IT is the powerhouse of processing and handling data, and OT is the hands-on manager of physical processes.
Misunderstanding their roles and stakeholders behind can lead to a disjointed and ineffective solution.
Imagine you’re managing a manufacturing plant, and you want to integrate IoT sensors. If you use just an IT approach focusing on data, or an OT approach prioritizing machinery feedback, you might miss out. IoT, by integrating and enhancing both, creates an ecosystem greater than the sum of its parts.
While technology is the enabler, the customer’s needs and preferences are the driving force.
No matter how advanced your tech is, if it doesn’t resonate with customers, it won’t succeed.
Imagine you are part of a city’s planning committee. The goal is to introduce smart lighting in the city. Instead of getting swayed by the shiniest wireless tech with myriad features, what if you had a system tailored to your city’s needs? Lights that adapt to weather changes, dim on empty streets, and respond to traffic flow. It’s not about having the most advanced tech, but the right tech to meet the city’s unique challenges.
IoT is complicated, but solutions shouldn’t be.
Over-complicated systems will be left behind, no matter how innovative they seem.
Consider a farmer wanting to track their crops. Would they favor a system overloaded with features or a simple one with an intuitive dashboard? The majority would choose the latter.
Tailored solutions specific to certain tasks or industries often outperform broad, all-purpose ones.
Trying to please everyone with a one-size-fits-all approach often pleases no one.
Imagine a cold storage facility reaching out for sensors. Generic ones could do the job, but wouldn’t specialized certified sensors, considering humidity and specific temperature zones, serve them better?
IoT magic happens when software and hardware converge seamlessly.
Rely solely on one, and you’re missing half the equation.
Think of a retail store aiming for better customer analytics. Software alone might analyze sales, but coupling it with footpath trackers? Now, they can understand not just what customers buy, but how they move.
IoT is about the “Internet” of things, not just “things.”
Silos kill the primary advantage of IoT – connectivity.
Consider a hospital using bed sensors for patient monitoring. If those sensors talk to lights, alarms, and communication systems, imagine the increase in efficiency and the potential for lifesaving interventions.
Proprietary might feel innovative, but standards drive adoption.
Locking clients into your proprietary system is a short-term win with long-term losses.
Picture setting up a smart home. Would you want devices that seamlessly talk to each other or to be stuck with brands that don’t communicate? Industry standards can make life so much easier.
Today’s perfect solution is tomorrow’s outdated tech.
Non-modular systems become obsolete faster, costing more in the long run.
Envision deploying a smart water monitoring solution with plug-and-play sensor nodes. When introducing a new toxin-detection module, it’s a simple addition without re-configuring the entire system. Modularity is the foundation of scalability.
Money doesn’t guarantee success, and sometimes it hinders innovation.
Throwing money at a problem can blind you to simple, effective solutions.
Think of two startups in the smart thermostat space. One is bootstrapped, focusing on just temperature control and user experience. The other, flush with cash, adds countless features. Which one do you think users would gravitate towards?
10. Business model>Pricing
A competitive price is a good start, but long-term viability comes from a robust business model.
Undercutting competitors on price without a sustainable business model is a fast track to business failure.
Consider a smart grid infrastructure provider offering competitive product prices but charges steeply for API access, limiting third-party integrations. Another offers a pricier grid but supports open-source software enhancements. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is more than initial expenditure.
I hope you found these insights helpful. I’d love to hear what you think about IoT. Drop a comment below!