IoT Lifecycle Management

GUPTA, Gagan       Posted by GUPTA, Gagan
      Published: December 2, 2021

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On a basic level, IoT is used for collecting data about the physical world that would be very difficult or impossible for humans to collect without the aid of smart devices and monitoring systems. Insights derived from the data collected by these devices allow people to understand, monitor, and react to events or changes.

Whether your company has the resources to plan and implement an IoT solution on its own or needs to work with a partner, the basic steps for a successful IoT deployment are usually the same:

- Define Internet of Things business cases.
- Work with an empowered team that represents OT, IT, and management.
- Start small, working your way up in terms of scope and complexity after you've achieved initial success.

How can it help your business?

IoT enables your organization to analyze and act on data, allowing you to make smart decisions in real-time. With the timely and relevant insights about your business and customers that come with these new sources of data, there's great potential for industries of all kinds - including manufacturing, transportation, energy, agriculture, retail, and government-to operate more efficiently and provide new value to customers by implementing the right IoT solution.

What is the Internet of Things used for?

In short, IoT lets you solve your business problems using your own data. The Internet of Things isn't just about connected devices-it's about the information those devices collect and the powerful, immediate insights that can be garnered from that information. These insights can be used to transform your business and lower costs through improvements like reduction of wasted materials, streamlined operational and mechanical processes, or expansion into new lines of business that are only made possible with reliable real-time data. Create a real competitive advantage by using IoT to turn your data into insights and turn those insights into action.

What is IoT beneficial for?

Organizations that invest in the Internet of Things are able to deliver more value, including more personalized customer engagement, less waste of materials and labor, and increased operational efficiency. As data is collected and analyzed, new trends may even reveal new revenue opportunities. Because of these benefits, trends indicate that IoT use is both rapidly diversifying and becoming more commonplace.

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IoT Lifecycle Management
IoT Lifecycle Management

Connecting lifecycles to build the IoT lifecycle

Traditional software development practices and tools can't scale up to support the accelerated delivery cycles and iterations of products designed for the Internet of Things. You need modern tools and practices designed for the IoT to succeed.

In the past, traditional development methodologies were waterfall and led in one direction: from design to deployment, with little data coming back to the development team from deployed products. However, in the Internet of Things, embedded software and sensors in the hardware send operational data back for analysis and action back to the developers. Real-world usage data is now available for developers to improve the quality and usability of their products quickly. We refer to the IoT development process as a feedback loop.

Teams that have successfully leveraged agile methods to improve software delivery now want to carry that over to hardware, to apply the same agile methods to mechanical, electrical design and manufacturing processes. They are challenged with connecting software, hardware and device services components together and linking together the engineering disciplines that deliver these components of the completed product.

Hardware and software configurations evolve at different rates, and keeping track of which software goes with which hardware requires clear connections. As product complexity increases, each component's configuration and its linkages across the overall product configuration can soon become unmanageable without a system to support the process.

Creating successful IoT-enabled products and services is not an impossible task; it's just a challenging one when organizations try to do too much at once, make project commitments without asking the right questions, or do things in the wrong order. To be successful, it's critical to understand what the entire IoT journey looks like and accurately identify where an organization is in that journey-after all, it's only possible to know what immediate next steps to take when the final destination is clear.

Because every organization has different levels of experience, actionable market opportunities, or internal resources at their disposal, there is no step-by-step guide to completely avoid this type of dysfunction.

IoT Life Cycle

There are four stages to the IoT product life cycle. These are Design, Deployment, ongoing Management, and Decommissioning.

Design is the first stage of the life cycle but likely the most important one. In this stage, the developers have to consider requirements from the next three stages of the product life cycle to ensure that the product can easily support each stage. In many cases, the product is not brand new, and instead is an enhancement to a previous generation product. Therefore, developers have to consider how to best bridge new functionalities and the existing code base without compromising performance and security. Developers have to also carefully weigh "make versus buy" considerations. In a noisy IoT marketplace filled with many options for both hardware and software solutions, it can be discerning when it comes to selecting the right partners.

Deployment is the second stage of the product life cycle, and itself can come in a few phases such as proof-of-concepts, pilots, and commercial roll out. Deployments of IoT solutions are much more complex than traditional products, as there are many more stakeholders involved. For example, a deployment at an electric utility may involve the OEM, the utility provider, a systems integrator, an independent software vendor (ISV), and the public utility commission. They may all have the need to have access to the product at the various phases of deployment; as such, the right level of user authorization needs to be provided. Initial provisioning and configuration of the platform in the field needs to be quick and seamless. Modelling the deployment and activation after smartphones and other consumer products an ensure ease of use and deployment at scale

Ongoing Management is the third stage of the product life cycle, and likely the longest one. During this stage, multiple stakeholders may need to access the device to be able to monitor its status, provide maintenance, provide updates, and optimize its performance - all without sending someone on site. In fact, for many industrial customers, one of the most critical drivers of the value in IoT is the ability to use a device's data to make decisions regarding its performance

Finally, the last stage of the product life cycle is Decommissioning. This stage is typically overlooked in many product designs. Organizations need to carefully consider and plan for the product's end-of-life at the design stage. End users and other stakeholders have to be able to quickly and securely remove a device from service and on-board a new one. While it may seem counterintuitive to develop a design for making it easier for an end user to decommission their product and move into a newer model, this has been done very intelligently by companies like Samsung and Apple. By making it easier for their customers to transition from one product model to another, they have created another reason for their customers to continue to invest in their products time and time again.

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IoT Development Stack

Building products in this new era of connected devices requires a strategic and focused product development cycle. The IoT product development cycle is divided into thinking, planning, and building new smart product plans. The stakes are high, and it can be hard to know where to start. Almost every high-performing piece of equipment - from dishwashers to factory robots - has baked-in intelligence. Sensor-packed devices constantly relaying on data are among the billions of things that make up the Internet of Things. The IoT development stack has four layers to create a complete IoT solution.

1. IoT hardware device

It is the first layer in the IoT technology stack, which defines the digital and physical parts of any smartly connected product. In this stacked layer, it is necessary to understand the size, implementation, cost, life, reliability, etc. If we are talking about small devices such as smart watches, you may only have one space for such a system-on-chip (SoC). Here, you will need a built-in computer such as Raspberry-Pi, BeagleBone board and Artik module.

2. Device software

At this level, you need to identify the sensors that can access the data you need. These sensors help collect the data needed for connected smart products to function as intended. Device software can transform device hardware into smart devices. This set of IoT technologies allows you to define devices in software, allowing each device to provide different applications depending on the software it is running.

3. Connectivity

In the IoT communication suite, it is important to connect the device and sensors to the cloud and then decide which network communication platform to connect to the application. The most common connection types are Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, radio, cellular, and satellite. The communication section of this step describes several ways to exchange information about your device with the world. This includes the type of physical network and protocol being used.

4. IoT Product development stages

The stages or steps involved in an IoT-product development are:

- Data transmission and connectivity

A team of experienced and renowned IoT engineers can add secure wireless control and connectivity to mobile phones, Wi-Fi, RFID, GPS, Bluetooth and other types of products. A top priority for IoT product development teams is to transmit data in real time without sacrificing security or privacy.

- Hardware Identification

Product hardware identification is one of the most important parts of IoT product development. Amongst these, two types of equipment are required for IoT product development. One is a sensor element and the other is the conversion of an electrical signal into a physical result. With the in-depth knowledge of various sensors and devices, great success can be achieved in developing IoT products. A few sensors are temperature sensor, smoke sensor, pressure sensor, gyroscope, etc.

- M2M Application

The M2M application has two machines that communicate or exchange data without any human interaction. This includes the connection of power lines, the serial connection and the wireless communication in the IIoT.

- Software and Cloud integration

Amongst all the IoT product development stages, software and cloud integration are other important stages for building the best IoT product. The development team is responsible for building web and mobile-based applications for controlling the functionality of products in real-time. There is a custom software application that is hosted on the cloud servers to manage controlling, monitoring, optimising, and autonomous operation of product function. Some of the cloud services are Google cloud, Azure IoT Hub, Aws IoT, etc.

Product design tips for the IoT era

- Use the aftermarket as a trove of great design research.
- Use IoT data to inform and iterate next design cycle.
- Train staff to understand the challenges and opportunities of the IoT.
- Partner early and often.
- Make sure partners have security-minded business models.
- Tap into AI capabilities that can enhance security.

The bottom line

In the face of increasing complexity of smart deployments, the concept of IoT lifecycle management is a source of answers for the industry challenges. But it should be noted that this state is only achieved with a reliable and scalable IoT management platform placed at the core of the enterprise. While this is not to say that the IoT lifecycle management stands for all the good things in IoT, putting the ideas behind it into practice certainly leads to creating an IoT environment where operators and users can focus on their business and stop scratching their heads about additional configuration, debugging, software updates, correct fleet operation and device end-of-life issues.

At Vyom Data Sciences, we can help you build and accomplish your IoT strategy or approach that suits your business requirements and your company's objectives. If you want to see how we can assist in your IoT dreams, schedule an appointment with one of our IoT consultants today.

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IoT Lifecycle Management

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