Where Do I Begin My IoT Journey?

Author: Dr Mazlan Abbas, CEO of REDtone IOT. An IOT Evangelist, Keynote Speaker and IOT Thought Leader.

What’s your answer when people asked – “Where do I begin my IoT journey?” or “I want to do my PhD in IoT, please advice in which area should I focus” or “I want to implement IoT solution in our Company, could you please propose what applications” or “Please propose IoT solutions for our City”, etc

Many times, I have been asked mainly by two groups of people i.e. (1) Students who wanted to pursue either their Masters or PhD (2) Organizations who wanted to embark their IoT journey but don’t know where to start. The question is too broad that it’s quite impossible to give a very effective or accurate answer without defining the scenario or scope.

The starting point for an IoT journey is to pick an application scenario, understand the problem statement and redefine the scope.

  1. Application scenario – For example, if you want to embark on a Smart City project, you need to pick one of the application scenarios such as parking, transportation, environmental or security, etc. Sometimes, we wonder what ioT applications are considered under the category of “Smart City”? Is it anything which resides in a City (which can be almost all the IoT applications that you can be mentioned) or is it anything that interact between citizens and the government? Which application is more important for the city – is it for the convenience of the citizens or reducing costs of city operations or generating new revenue streams for the city?
  2. Define the Right Problem Statement – Once you have identified the application scenario, you need to ask the right set of questions. It’s critical because not only it will define the right sensors and network connectivity type but it will reduce the risk of gathering the wrong data and thus give wrong insights. The diagram below shows the Value Pyramid. People are willing to pay more if you can answer the question of “Why.”
  3. Redefine the Scope – Sometimes we can become overboard in trying to capture as many data either from sensors data or external data with the intention to have some form of correlation. If you are not a data scientist and not a domain expert, you might be collecting 90% of data which is garbage and unnecessary thus a wastage of storage. Physical sensors are not cheap, thus, placing at the right place and collecting data at the right time is important to ensure you good ROI.

For most businesses, they will use IoT solutions to help  lower operating costs, increase productivity, and allow for expansion into new markets.

Where do companies focus their resources or investments when it comes to planning for IoT projects? Among the businesses surveyed by Business Insider that are using IoT solutions, these companies focused on:

  • 66% used IoT technologies for risk reduction. For instance, oil companies are starting to use drones to inspect oil rigs, which can be a dangerous task for humans to perform.
  • 63% used IoT solutions to optimize operations. For example, manufacturers can use sensors to gather data about machines on their assembly line to predict when they might fail, and fix them before experiencing any downtime.
  • 33% used the IoT to develop new or enhance existing products, such as car companies that are putting cellular data connections into their cars to gather data about them and provide Wi-Fi hotspots for passengers.
  • 21% leveraged IoT solutions to enhance customer targeting. A good example of this would be a retailer that uses in-store beacons to target customers with real-time offers sent to their smartphone based on their location in the store.

For most businesses, they will use IoT solutions to help lower operating costs, increase productivity, and allow for expansion into new markets.

Once you have answered the above questions, it will mark your first important steps in your IoT journey.


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