Often, when an IoT project is in development, the spotlight falls on the application. All of the buzz is around what it’ll do, how much easier it will make life, what revenue streams it’ll open up and how cool it’ll be when it works.
Which are all great things to consider—they’re why IoT solutions are so exciting. But there are some very important elements missing.
Like, for example: ‘how will we connect it?’
We’ve seen people let their project’s connectivity take a backseat to the point where it becomes an afterthought. It’s only later, when the holes in the project appear and the whole thing is in danger of going belly up, that the operators have to go back to square one and redesign the solution.
Addressing your connectivity requirements (and its adjacent issues, like budget and expertise) is at the core of the whole process. Efficiencies and revenue may be the secret sauce that make IoT solutions so sweet—but you need the meat (or plant-based substitute; go veggies!) and potatoes to serve it on.
To make sure your IoT project is built to win, you need to ask these key connectivity questions—and for some, you’ll need answers from both the end user and the supplier:
How much data will you need?
The very basics! This is fundamental for working out your budget and SIM requirements. It’ll help determine everything, from choice of device to type of connectivity.
Do you want to pool the data together?
Comes in handy when some devices use a lot more data than others. Instead of going for the largest data plan for the lowest common denominator (your highest possible usage), a pool allows SIMs to share data, so you only use exactly what you need. It’s similar to the ‘family sharer’ packages that consumer mobile networks offer.
Do you need extra resilience, or is one network per SIM enough?
A good question for mission-critical applications. Some can be built to work around connectivity drops by attempting to reconnect at set intervals. But if the solution must stay up at all costs, Multi-net connectivity is your friend.
Do you need a VPN, or a public static IP? Or will a dynamic IP work?
The type of SIM card required can vary, so it’s important to know your IP requirements from the get-go. Some applications may need a public static IP to be reachable via the Internet. Others might be fine with a dynamic IP, if they just need to reach the cloud—or may need the extra level of security that comes with a private IP.
What kind of connectivity do you need?
It’s no longer a simple choice of 2G or 3G—do you need 4G, LTE-M, NB-IoT, or 5G? Or maybe you need one of the many LPWAN options? With all kinds of new tech out there, each with their own pros and cons, you’ve got to really nail your choice of connectivity.
Where is your IoT solution being deployed?
Geography plays a big part in choosing your connectivity. For example, 2G is now being phased out in some countries, like Australia; which means your choice needs to be future-proof.
Or perhaps your solution is based underground, or a location with strong electromagnetic interference—in which case, you’ll need LTE-M or NB-IoT’s excellent signal penetration.
Do the SIMs need voice / SMS?
This sounds like an obvious one—but we’ve seen many operators realise after the fact that their SIMs need voice or SMS. Which is an easy enough thing to enable; but it may change pricing, so plan for it early for the sake of your budget. Speaking of…
Have you accounted for everything in your connectivity budget?
A lot of businesses run out of money mid-project, having bitten off more than they can chew; or overestimate costs and don’t start in the first place.
Often, customers are lured in by low monthly rentals, but are then hit by high overage rates. Lock down your requirements early to avoid unnecessary costs.
Have you got an integrated dashboard?
If the end user needs a variety of SIMs and networks in the solution, they’ll end up tangling with multiple portals and interfaces just to manage the single estate.
Make sure you’ve got the capability to manage the estate with one dashboard—it’ll save you and your end users the time and headache of jumping between portals.
How will you activate your SIMs?
IoT projects might have national, continental, or even global rollouts; and a hitch in your deployment strategy can make or break your project. For example, if your SIMs need to be manually activated across multiple sites, having staff at each location to do swivel chair work is a huge strain on budget and time.
You can avoid this with zero-touch tools that automate your activations. Your SIM and device can test connectivity with a tiny amount of data, then go dormant until the time to roll out into production.
Have you got your IoT security measures in place?
Don’t let this one fall by the wayside. Concerns around cybersecurity and hacking are one of the biggest causes of apprehension around IoT—but with the proper tools and knowledge, taking security precautions is a simple matter.
From the right firewalls to the right devices, always hammer out your security details at the start of the project.
Do you have the right IoT partners for the job?
With IoT as young as it is, finding the right technical expertise for your team can be a challenge; especially if you’re just starting your first project. It’s a massive industry, with a ton of tech to grapple with.
Rather than scrambling to assemble the right experience, skillset, tools and tech, just find a partner that can do it all for you.
Two teams are stronger than one
These are the questions that need to be addressed in every single project. But the list isn’t exhaustive—things can and will change from solution to solution. And for more niche projects or industries, there are even more questions that need answers.
This is why the partnership approach is so effective; two teams are stronger than one. The best way to guarantee your IoT project’s success is to have the right IoT partner.
Give us a call—we’ll answer your most difficult questions, and help you take your IoT project from concept to completion.