Where is the Development Cost and Complexity in IoT?
Industrial equipment, products, or solution providers and manufacturers contemplating or planning IoT, face many unknowns. Foremost among these is what IoT will provide, how much it will cost and how long it takes. In addressing the first, the web is full of blogs, marketing, information (and propaganda) about all the wonderful things IoT will do for your products, so yet another blog is certainly not needed. It suffices to say that properly implemented, ‘IoT-ing’ your business has a lot of upsides.
Correctly done, it most likely does not have that much downside. Understanding the second and third (how much it will cost and how long it will take) is more difficult as there is a myriad of views and frankly opinions coming from suppliers, vendors, opinion makers, engineers, IT, and others in many cases selling their specific solution. There’s nothing wrong with that, but figuring out what the answers are can be both confusing and challenging.
Dividing the Problem
One way is to divide the problem into relevant parts and look at their components and parameters. IoT solutions and implementations can be either very many (10+ moving parts) or few. One example of the latter is describing them as only two parts, The Front End (IoT Thing) and the Back End (The Rest).
In this view, there is a simple division:
- The IoT product, device, system, or equipment – the ‘IoT Thing’.
- ‘The Rest’ – internet connectivity, data handling and processing, and applications.
The reason for this division is that it separates IoT solutions into a part that you, as a supplier of equipment products and solutions, are experts at, your Thing. This is the business you are in, and your engineers, marketers, sales, manufacturing, and managers know all about it. This is separate from the part you may not know well, the Rest.
Let us start with turning your Thing into an IoT Thing. As an implementer of IoT solutions, this is where you begin. The Thing is part of your company’s offering, whether it is a device, control panel, physical equipment (machines, controllers, elevators), or an asset, system, or solution you want to connect to the Internet as part of an IoT solution.