How fast is the Internet of Things (IoT) growing? Another 31 percent this year, for a total of 8.4 billion connected devices worldwide, according to Gartner. By the end of this decade, the amount should top 20 billion.

Those numbers mean businesses, colleges, government agencies and other organizations need to develop IoT strategies as soon as possible. In fact, most of the $273 billion spent on IoT services this year will be for help designing and implementing IoT, Gartner says.

3 Considerations for Adopting IoT

That spending reflects both IoT’s complexity and the fundamental role it plays in enabling digital transformation. To understand why and how, take the example of a manufacturer that wants to use IoT to maximize productivity, safety, efficiency and customer satisfaction. At a minimum, that company needs to decide:

1. Where to Put Sensors

On equipment to monitor productivity and detect failure? As biometric wearables on employees to increase safety? On heating, cooling and lighting systems to conserve energy? On individual products or pallets of raw materials for inventory and supply chain management?

2. How to Connect Those Sensors

Does the factory have a Wi-Fi network that can handle all of that traffic? Does it have seamless coverage throughout? Can it be partitioned so the IoT data stays secure and private? Is outdoor coverage required? What about radio frequency identification, proprietary technologies and forthcoming fifth-generation (5G) cellular networks?

3. What to Do with All the Data

Which data needs to be monitored and acted upon in real time? Which can be stored for forensic and historical analysis? When do humans need to be involved, and when can artificial intelligence make decisions? How does this fit with the company’s overall Big Data strategy and systems?

Securing Support for IoT Initiatives

That list represents just a very broad-brush rundown of what that manufacturer will need to consider. The devil is in the details, such as industry-specific regulations and best practices that affect how the company has to implement IoT. On top of everything, the company must find the staff and time to figure all of this out while running its core business.

That’s why savvy businesses and other organizations are turning to consultants for help developing and executing their IoT transformation strategy. There’s no shortage to choose from, but the catch is that a $273 billion market opportunity brings out a lot of posers. Many don’t have the necessary expertise to recommend the right technologies, tools and processes for leveraging IoT.

The right consultant also can help organizations avoid one of IoT’s biggest risks: information overload. IoT spans so many aspects of a business that it’s easy to wind up with more data than the organization can analyze and act on. A good consultant can identify which data is key. For example, that aforementioned manufacturer might use IoT to identify trends in equipment downtime. That way, it can adjust its preventive maintenance programs to avoid lengthy disruptions.

Implementing IoT isn’t a one-and-done project. Because it affects so many aspects of an organization, it is a journey that may take years to implement. The good news is the right consultant can help accelerate an organization’s time to value from their investments. Solutions are available that can be implemented immediately, and by developing a strategic technology roadmap, organizations can break the journey into reasonable steps. The right consultant can look at the client’s business goals and recommend what to execute first to successfully get positive business outcomes from those first projects

To learn more about digital transformation or to request an IoT Envisioning Workshop visit CDW.com/IoT

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