A device strategy must take into consideration business planning, product building, operational efficiency, scaling, tech support, value creation, and sustainability to thrive
With the ongoing pandemic creating many upheavals, organizations are increasingly grappling with a monumental challenge – creating seamless workflows and remote working environments whilst staying resilient, relevant, and flexible to respond to present and future changes. These changes are also taking place against a backdrop of evolving technology usage, both by organizations and individuals. Industry analyst Gartner identified Internet of Behavior (IoB) as one of the strategic technology trends for 2021. Explained simply, IoB is a data-driven approach to guide behavior. Data is gathered from many different sources and IoB will increasingly shape interactions between people and organizations. Using data from multiple sources and devices to gain insights into business operational processes and productivity is of course not a new phenomena. Organizations across industries have been moving towards deploying connected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) enabled business environments for quite some time.
Successful use of IoT technology requires a device strategy, regardless of the type of organization. When I use the term “devices,” I refer to both mobile devices and IoT enabled devices. A device strategy must take into consideration 7 important factors to thrive: business planning, product building, operational efficiency, scaling, tech support, value creation, and sustainability.
Organizations that require a device strategy fall into 4 broad categories – device manufacturers, application developers, system integrators, and device users. Each of them have different needs and priorities when formulating a device strategy. As a starting point, ask yourself some crucial questions about your organization – which of the above 4 categories you belong to and what your organization envisions for itself.
Here is an overview of the different technology requirements for these organization types:
- Device manufacturers – to develop devices and basic software (such as an API) to showcase device capabilities
- Application developers – need to build IoT applications on top of their existing hardware
- Systems integrators – to integrate several IoT applications and create value in a particular industry
- Device users – provide devices to their employees to be used for specific purposes
All of these organizations must then identify the specific market requirements, target customers, and the expected types of device engagement. These are the things to keep in mind for a product building strategy.
A generic guideline is as follows:
- Device manufacturers consider where and how the devices are to be used, taking into considerations issues such as device robustness, protocol use (existing or new protocols), chipset usage (existing or new chipsets), device security, and power consumption.
- Application developers are mainly concerned with the types of devices that will be used, the type of software platform to use, application distribution, and how the application logic compares with power consumption.
- Systems integrators’ main concerns are with integration – which platform to use, the need of new platforms, security, protocols, analytics, dashboards, and how they can expose APIs with external parties.
- Device users need to understand if they’re using the right type of device, whether or not these devices are user friendly, data security and storage, and device ownership (who owns the devices – the organization, device manufacturer, or the employee).
Once you build your IoT applications and deploy your devices, then it’s time to think about operational efficiency. Your key concerns at this stage would broadly consist of detecting device failure notifications, identifying device anomalies early so as to minimize operational disruptions, pushing software updates to all your devices in your ecosystems, and how you can reset your devices in the case of a security breach.
Any organization must first have a thorough understanding of their IoT deployment so that they can formulate and implement a scaling strategy. A starting point for this exercise would be to first identify which architecture layer within your IoT deployment needs scaling and how this can be done, recognize usage and failure patterns, consider questions around device throttling, and finally, if your organizations will use server or edge computing capabilities.
When we talk about technology support, the biggest issue is what actions an organization will have to take when a remotely installed device fails. Using backup devices is an option (although this is often not the most cost-effective choice).
Devices and their deployment are expensive. Long term value creation must therefore be a cornerstone of your device strategy. Measure the impact of device integration and understand what steps your organization can take to prevent your devices from becoming less valuable over time, how your organization can gain a competitive advantage through your devices, what type of data can be generated from your devices for business insights, and how you can diversify your business offerings and processes.
A discussion about value creation naturally leads to questions about sustainability. Sustainability focuses on 3 areas – technology, data security, and legal challenges.
On the technology front, devices and platforms used today may not be valid in several months’ time. As such, organizations must address any vendor lock in issues with your devices, whether or not your platform can be scaled with other devices and applications, and any license fees and data ownership concerns that you will encounter.
When considering data security, any breach impacts consumer trust in your organization which in turn affects sustainability. Pay particular attention to how your data is stored, whether or not you use a managed cloud service, who will be given access to the data, whether or not a data filtering mechanism exists within your organization, and how your mobile apps were developed.
Finally, on the legal challenges front, many regions have introduced data privacy and security laws, for example, GDPR in the EU, CCPA in California, USA, and CDR in Australia. With these regulations, there’s a chain of liability, many different and complex data ownership scenarios, and automated contracts. Any questions on a sustainable device strategy must look into the intricacies of these regulations and even in the absence of formal regulations, pay heed to privacy concerns of individuals and device users.
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