From ceiling fans to locks to your clothes, the IoT movement is paving the way to a truly digital lifestyle. And for IT professionals, the potential to transform inanimate everyday objects into intelligent, connected beings has opened the door to a wealth of opportunities.
But as IT professionals work to breathe life into static objects, one crucial aspect tends to get pushed low on the list of technology and business considerations: Connectivity. In fact, few enterprises give managed connectivity solutions much - if any - consideration during IoT procurement or deployment.
For devices to succeed in the marketplace, they need a strong connection and a seamless user experience. For the M2M market to deliver on this, IT leaders need to prioritise managed connectivity early in the process.
Why managed connectivity simply cannot be an afterthought
Early-stage deployment is risky enough, even without the added threat of testy connectivity. If you don’t address connectivity issues early on, you might be setting the stage for more glitches and work down the road. Any IT leader knows it’s much more efficient and cost-effective to design before you build, not vice versa.
Prioritising managed connectivity early on will also provide a high level of visibility. You can filter and apply the data intelligence you generate via managed connectivity through the rest of your solution infrastructure. This will ultimately allow you to gain more insight into your solution, draw bigger returns on your investment, lower the risk of unmanned or remote devices, and gain an edge in the marketplace.
It can also save you from surprises or hidden data costs associated with an improperly configured solution, which can slow or stop your project altogether.
Connectivity issues need to be addressed before the procurement process. And when you discuss connectivity with the C-suite, there are a few questions you should consider:
- What technologies will I need to support? Take an inventory of the various technologies you’ll be working with, which could range from low-power Bluetooth to 4G LTE radios to a combination of communication capabilities. For example, a smart car system might need 4G LTE to connect features such as GPS navigation to the outside world and Wi-Fi to communicate with other devices (such as tablets) used in the backseat.
- Where will my devices be located? Will your devices be located in the U.S., or will some be housed internationally? Will your devices be connected to a local network, or will they roam? All of this matters from a logistical, geographic, security, and cost perspective. LTE is widely used in the U.S., but HSPA+ and WiMAX are supported more in other parts of the world. By using preferred networks, you’ll avoid costs associated with roaming when devices or technology are “out of network.”
- What tools or support will I need to manage my solution? Strong connectivity is essential for connecting to the IoT. In the U.S., competing networks and standards can make it difficult to connect multiple products to one network - such as AT&T phones to a Verizon network. Some carriers only offer basic tools for device provisioning and management, so consider your needs first.
Finding the right solution for managed connectivity
Once you’ve evaluated your needs, it’s time to find the best solution for you. While there are many carriers available, they tend to focus on enterprise smartphones and might not be the best solution for your complex device needs.
A managed connectivity provider will invest in platforms and services that allow you to manage and scale up your deployment. Plus, this type of provider can adapt to your unique device and technology needs and create a single portal with multiple connectivity options to ensure a painless user experience. And in the IoT - where consumers already rely on these everyday objects - a seamless, uninterrupted experience is vital.
Look for a provider with a proven track record, stellar 24/7 technical support, and a willingness to assist with everything from the mundane to the bizarre. Find out how each provider plans to handle your unique deployment by asking questions about the carriers it supports, the size of its support staff, etc. Ask to test-drive its tools to further narrow down your choices.
Don’t let connection headaches overshadow the true potential of your device. By prioritising managed connectivity in early-stage IT talks, you will save your company time and money down the road. Then, you can focus on delivering a product that actually improves - not interrupts - the lives of millions.