IoT solutions are transforming the way that companies do business across the globe. However, not all solutions are created equal. An IoT solution that surfaces data without analytics is like a symphony playing Mozart without a conductor. The music is there, but if it has no structure it loses its beauty and meaning. There is no shortage of data that will be produced with IoT, but without properly analyzing that data, it ends up just being a lot of noise.
“Analytic tools are essential to get the full value from your IoT solutions, regardless of what products your business selects.”-Sara Haley
The Power of Data
Data is incredibly powerful and can give insights into all aspects of your business. It can help organizations refine processes, track down missing physical assets for significant cost savings, or even help define new use cases for existing products. Without data, a company can only be reactive or speculate on future problems and outcomes. With the data provided by an IoT solution, a company can be predictive by recognizing problems when they are small and easy to fix. However, many IoT data solutions only provide the data and not necessarily the context to make it meaningful. That is where IoT data analytics comes in.
Being able to interpret the data before it is presented to the user is incredibly powerful. For example, analytics can help alert a factory supervisor to an issue on the floor in real time instead of reading through reports of issues after the fact. This can save productive time but also reduce the risks of defects. Analysis software can come in many forms, from one-size-fits-all products, to low-code/no-code solutions, all the way to solutions that require a dedicated engineering team to implement and maintain. There are benefits and costs to each type of solution, and your company will have to decide what solution works best.
Popular IoT Data Analytics Solutions
Technologies like AWS IoT Analytics are very sophisticated and powerful, but very complex to implement and require a dedicated engineering team with domain expertise. The benefit of this analytics solution is clear: the ultimate in customization. Everything your business needs and nothing it doesn’t. You can think of AWS IoT products like building blocks: you can make pretty much anything out of them, but they require a lot of planning, maintenance, and oversight.
Not all businesses can afford or have the desire to hire an engineering team to implement these solutions. So, those businesses would gravitate towards a one-size-fits-all solution, such as Azure’s offering: IoT Central. Azure also offers a solution similar to AWS, but they have been finding a lot of success in an out-of-the-box approach. The simple analytics offered by this solution or other one-size offerings can meet the needs of many companies. They allow businesses to connect quickly and set up their dashboards and alerts within days or even hours. If all your business needs is simple alerting, and/or your business only has a small number of devices to connect to, this would be a great option for you to consider.
The main issue with the IoT data analytic solutions above is that they lack customization options, are expensive to scale, and might end up causing your team to have to do analytics in a third-party tool (which is yet another expense). If you have a business that has specific analytic needs and many devices to connect, a low-code/no-code solution, like the one offered by Leverege (running on Google Cloud), could be a great middle-ground solution. This type of offering is customizable for a business’ needs but also doesn’t require technical expertise. It provides an end-to-end alternative and includes analytics and alerting out of the box (without the need for a dedicated engineering team).
Regardless of what solution your business chooses to implement, making sure that a third-party tool can be integrated is essential to giving you maximum flexibility and value from your data. Tools such as Tableau, Power BI, and Looker can be great to help your company visualize your data in a familiar way. If your company already has a preferred analytics tool, this will allow your users to harness their knowledge of that tool with new sources of data.
Analytic tools are essential to get the full value from your IoT solutions, regardless of what products your business selects. Without these core capabilities, your business may be missing out on valuable insights and maximizing value. Just like baking, the raw ingredients don’t come together without the recipe being able to bring them to their full potential.