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Planning for IoT in 2020: What you can do right now

What you need to think about before taking the inevitable dive into IoT

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Smart managers look before they leap. They take in the landscape, pause to consider what they see, identify problems, and then make informed, calculated decisions. That's exactly the sort of thoughtful approach that Canadian companies will benefit from as they begin adding more Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to their operations.

IoT is everywhere. IDC Canada says 81% of medium- and large-sized Canadian businesses are already using IoT solutions in one capacity or another right now. A report from Deloitte estimates IoT technology spending will reach $1.1 trillion in 2020, and statistics aggregator Statista predicts the number of connected devices to top 30 billion by next year.

Communication service providers like Rogers, with the rollout of its LTE-M network – a low-power wide area network designed specifically for low-power, wide area applications – are creating a purpose-built, nation-wide backbone on which the IoT will reside. Along the way, Rogers has developed expertise, capabilities, and fostered key partnerships with leading IoT solution providers that can be leveraged by customers like you. 

The most efficient means of determining how IoT can help your company is to examine how similar businesses have already leveraged it to help theirs. For example, cities around the globe are connecting busses, emergency vehicles and service fleets to not only track location but integrate them with traffic management and public safety applications. Transportation companies are collecting road-level meteorological data to optimize routing and safety for drivers by avoiding poor weather. Virtually all industries are keeping tabs on important assets to monitor varying conditions such as temperature, movement, and exposure to light.

And keep in mind that early adopters have borne much of the cost and headaches of developing solutions from scratch. You can safely follow the paths they've forged. Proven, inexpensive, off-the-shelf products provide a simple way for you to begin exploiting IoT without investing in a pricey project to develop a custom solution from the ground up.

Understanding how to properly leverage IoT is important, but ensuring your company is prepared for the introduction of these new technologies is equally as vital. Consider your research into IoT an opportunity to simultaneously assess your existing infrastructure and identify areas that could do with improvement.

Security, for example, is a primary concern for any company investing in new IoT technologies. Each new device connected to your network represents a new potential entry point for hackers and malware. Ensuring that you have a robust and automatically updated cybersecurity system in place that protects more than just phones and computers is paramount. And making sure appropriate team members aware of any newly introduced risk vectors is just as critical.

Data storage and analytics warrant equal consideration. Your new devices and sensors are going to generate information that you'll need to store and deconstruct. It doesn't really matter where the data is stored – on-premises or in the cloud – but your storage solution needs to be capable of handling constant, growing streams of incoming data from now into the foreseeable future. And depending on the tech you choose, it could be a copious amount of data.

What's more, you'll need some means of parsing this data, preferably in the form of real-time, easy-to-read reports that highlight key information – like when a piece of equipment needs maintenance or a product needs restocking – that your staff can act on instantly to save time and stave off potential problems before they grow. Some off-the-shelf solutions have this functionality baked-in, others will require a managed services provider to do the analysis.

Indeed, tapping an expert for help could be the smartest thing you do. Solution providers with a proven track record of managing and deploying IoT technologies for companies within your industry can offer expertise in all the areas we've discussed – from figuring out which existing, low-cost IoT technologies can provide the greatest value for businesses like yours, to helping ensure your current environment is IoT ready and can process and make sense of the information your new devices are producing.

Rogers maintains strategic partnerships with leading IoT solution providers that can be leveraged to help clients implement the right solutions for specific businesses and industries. IoT may still feel new to many, but expertise and affordable, tested solutions are available right now to Rogers customers.