Pushing your enterprise network out to the edge and encompassing all of the sensors that you could potentially attach to your equipment, machinery, and buildings form the technology collectively known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Forward-looking companies are investing in new technology and equipment, even as their decision-makers worry about the inherent risks. Bootstrapping provides an alternative because it creates IoT networks from simple and relatively inexpensive devices.
Gartner’s Paul DeBeasi has set the bar by exploring the fundamentals of bootstrapping the Internet of Things and published a thoughtfully developed path to successfully bootstrapping enterprise IoT (EIoT) initiatives. The concept is one that is popular because of the savings while keeping up with the potential for the technology. DeBeasi outlined a set of five points that enterprises must cover to implement IoT initiatives successfully.
1. Establish your team
Begin from a position of strength, which means having a team in place that centers on the IoT architecture. The initiative leader acts as IoT architect and builds the team to maximize the knowledge base, recruit someone with IoT analytics skills, and expand the team by recruiting developers who can appreciate big picture analytics while still getting under the hood and tinkering the details of connecting many small devices.
2. Explore the opportunities
Seek to proactively find how your organization can use the IoT to turn them into successes. DeBeasi prefers the term discover because of the difficulty that IT management teams often have determining the potential. Since IoT initiatives come from within, organizing inter-team partnerships are critical to outcomes of the effort.
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3. Model the data
Once you have defined the function, you will need to design the hardware and software systems that will be your solution. DeBeasi’s approach to model definition proceeds in three steps:
- Define the data streams;
- Define a data processing platform;
- Define the business objectives to target.
4. Prototype the model
There is much to learn by testing your model. A network of devices is a complex system and likely to require additional work based on initial feedback. With the hardware in place, the development team will have to confirm that the software provides the right functionality and automation. The team should only proceed beyond this step after resolving all limiting issues.
5. The investment decision and active operation
The model, verified by the outcomes achieved by the prototype, will demonstrate the viability of the system, and the scope of what it can achieve when it enters operation. When the data affirms the model, it is time to proceed to a decision to make the investment for full deployment and routine operations.
Bootstrapping your IoT network development is a sensible alternative for companies for a multitude of reasons. For example, the practice of connecting sensors and devices to the Internet is new and standards are evolving rapidly.
Use cases vary widely in response to the business of each enterprise and require careful planning to modify IoT concepts to suit specific purposes. Another point is that devices tend to be small, many in number, and distributed over many locations. In response, IoT teams can leverage inexpensive, open-source hardware such as Arduino, connected by USB cables or Wi-Fi.
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