As of the end of 2020, there were more than 26.66 billion IoT devices active across the world – a figure that is expected to grow to 75 billion by 2025. This tripling will be a phenomenal feat to achieve in the next four years and relies upon IoT projects that are currently planned or under development to mature quickly. Organisations need to make sure they can complete their small-scale tests quickly and expand their production, all within a relatively short period of time if they hope to maximise revenues.
There are several steps – from prototype to production – businesses can take to speed up their IoT projects (no matter what the application or device might be). Here, we’ve listed seven common aspects we believe are essential to consider when launching a time-sensitive IoT project.
#1 Consider using generic IoT service modules
This might seem like a no-brainer, but as far as time-to-market is concerned, off-the-shelf IoT solutions are sometimes the quickest and easiest way to enable a company to start iterating securely.
With built-in support for regular updates and decommissioning, these modules ensure a standard level of security for any project. They also come with the correct certifications and compliances included – a more painstaking and costly process for custom made solutions.
#2 Invest in your employees
The IoT skills gap has been recognised as a major issue within the industry, often preventing teams from exploiting new IoT project opportunities to the full. This could have huge consequences down the road with IoT technology continuing to proliferate all aspects of our lives.
Given that in many cases it is not possible to hire the talent to fill this gap, one option is to retrain existing teams and service engineers. Although this does take time, with training and upskilling programs, insightful workshops, and “Hacker Fridays” (where employees can try to hack a specific smart device), team members will become more capable of dealing with the new diagnostics support work, as well as any general IoT problems. And the more employees know about the IoT and the company’s plans, the more successful your projects will be.
Finally, remember that if your company still lacks the necessary expertise to deliver your project, specifically hiring a team to develop a custom-made solution is more complicated than selecting a trusted partner. In other words, call the experts sooner rather than later.
#3 Build the business case for IoT
Internal business communication is key for executing any IoT project successfully. This is because often executives in an organisation will not be able to visualise, or understand, the benefits of investing in the IoT. Arming yourself with proposed results that work for different aspects of your business, will be an essential part of getting the support you need.
#4 Consider how you secure your endpoints
Security is vital to maintaining a high degree of trust in the IoT, as well as keeping down costs. This is why it is essential to your device performance to make sure any endpoints include flexible, secure, default-settings and, in particular, optional mechanisms like password complexity, password expiration, and account lock-out, which forces users to modify the default credentials when setting up the device.
In addition, network managers using adapted Identity and Access Management solutions can use multi-factor authentication, biometric authentication, or digital certificates to also bolster authentication security.
#5 Be aware of your operating landscape
Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the IoT. Connectivity, security, and regulation standards differ around the world, meaning that what is legal in one country might not be in another. For example, what is legal in the US may not be acceptable in Europe or in Japan, and vice versa.
This lack of consistency presents challenges for IoT companies and means it is essential for organisations to understand which regulations apply, or will apply, to avoid any infringements and protect their customers.
Here are two examples:
When operating in Europe, businesses are subject to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the Network and Information Security Directive and the business itself by the EU’s Cybersecurity Act.
In California, on the other hand, SB 327, the first IoT-specific security law in the country, places liability (and burden of proof) on the IoT vendors if the device is connected to the Internet with an IP or Bluetooth address. This regulation requires that IoT devices sold in California are fitted with “reasonable security features”, which protect the device and the data it contains.
#6 Decide early on the types of data collection, transmission and processing
Modern IoT sensors can do a myriad of different things, which means not only can the data they collect vary wildly (e.g., sound, text, images) the method by which it is transmitted can also differ (e.g. Wi-Fi, cellular, eSIM).
Before embarking on a new IoT project it is important to consider what type of connectivity is right for your devices. Asking yourself, what amount of data you want to transmit, how the devices will be powered, and what level of security you need can help you work out the best route for your project early on.
The data that your IoT device transmits could range from simplistic to quite sophisticated; therefore, it’s important that developers apply a particular communication at endpoints to simplify data aggregation and analysis.
#7 Carefully select your alpha customer
It is important to remember that successful IoT projects are usually developed to serve the unmet needs of a specific (internal or external) customer. Therefore, instead of trying to create the perfect generic product from the start, focus on a designing a product for a limited set of customers. This will allow to spend your resources wisely during the first stages of your project development, which are usually the most critical ones.
If you’re preparing to launch your IoT project soon, we hope you found those tips useful. Whether you’re still in the planning phase of a project or are already looking for tools and best practices to quickly scale your application, do not hesitate to check out the Thales IoT resource centre for help.
You can also tweet us at @ThalesIoT if you have any additional queries.