IoT Solutions: Beyond What’s Fashionable

On a recent trip through the airport, I saw passengers carrying the latest in luggage fashions — Hidesign, Coach, and Louis Vuitton. I admire the bravery of someone who brings a LV bag through airport security. You have to have a steely will to watch your bag get mercilessly squashed and smashed through both security screenings and the subsequent stuffing into overhead compartments.

What does all this have to do with the IoT? Well, in order to create IoT-powered solutions that make a difference to your business, the prettiest and most haute-couture technology isn’t always the best — especially if there isn’t an infrastructure to support it. When developing IoT infrastructure, whether it’s in a developed or emerging market, here are some things to consider when questioning the viability of an asset.

Long-Term or Short-Term?

Think about your asset as if it was self-determining. How long would it last? Are local regulations changing too quickly to allow for a long-term solution? Considering that many sensors and IoT devices monitor heat, moisture, and pollutant levels, it’s important to mind compliance and make sure not to overspend if the asset will be rendered obsolete by an external condition.

What’s your appetite for risk? Remember that there’s a trade-off between multi-year warranties and the direct replacement of product if it ends up breaking or becoming compromised. Is it easy to upgrade, especially if you’re going to need a more mature solution down the line? Many industries have fixed usages for many products at the beginning, but evolve very quickly over a short period. The IoT will be no different.

Location, location, location

A sensor is only as good as its placement, and this factors into the long-term thinking as well. If you have a fixed site outdoors (for instance, an integrated lamp post with multiple sensors), that decision affects what sort of assets you're going to need to purchase, and their capabilities.

Interoperability is key as well. Having the right devices selected for your locations is great, but if they can’t communicate with one another, that’s a whole other problem. Make sure things match and pair — you don’t want a brightly colored puffy rain jacket paired with a patent leather bag.

And an additional caveat: the IoT isn’t a magical fairy godmother — if poor processes are backing up the technology, it’s not going to do much. A sensor in a waste bin is irrelevant if the garbage is not managed well at the last mile.

Who are you buying from, and why?

Because the lifespan of many sensors and assets is shorter than other technologies, it’s important to be purchasing from operations that provide long term support to vendors, as well as adhering to the terms and conditions of their dealings.

It’s also important to take regional preferences into account. Some countries may require manufacturers and creators of IoT systems to keep things in-country, and sometimes, that might also be the best business decision as well. Intel is planning to focus on cultivating local and custom IoT solutions for the Indian market. While many believe that the future is all about customization, standardization goes a long way to create solutions in the early phase of the IoT’s evolution. Intel works within its ecosystem of hardware and software partners to create standardized reference architectures that offer enough flexibility for businesses to choose from a menu of capabilities. Find out more on our IoT solutions page.

Kavitha Mohammad is the Director of Sales for Intel IoT and SmartCities, in the Asia Pacific Japan region. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.