EVERY IT INTEGRATOR can handle the first step of an Internet of Things project: Install, manage, connect, and secure IoT devices. The next step, maybe not so much: Mine all that data for actionable insight.
“The data is the important part,” says Aditya Pendyala, co-founder and vice president of growth at Mnubo, a developer of IoT analytics and artificial intelligence solutions in Montreal.
“Analytics enable the data strategies and business insights needed to drive successful project and business outcomes,” says Azmat Tanauli, senior director of product strategy for Birst, an Infor company and global provider of cloud business intelligence headquartered in San Francisco.
Indeed, profits will ultimately come from the data, not installing the IoT devices. But analyzing and managing all that “dirty, heterogeneous data” is difficult, according to Pendyala.
Tanauli explains that system integrators need an understanding of modern data architectures and the ability to refine and cleanse complex data sources. In addition, they must know how to handle the data securely, feed it into a modern analytics platform, and support multiple outputs—for dashboards, mobile devices, and even embedded analytics in application workflows.
DIY or Boxed Solution?
There are two ways for channel pros to develop tools for proper IoT analytics, says Pendyala. “They need to decide if they have a Home Depot culture to build it themselves, or an Ikea culture looking for in-a-box solutions.” There’s no wrong answer. DIY companies look to platforms like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, he says. Those seeking a “packaged” vertical solution can turn to companies like Manna, for example, which offers a platform for monitoring and analyzing oil and gas equipment.
Partnering with data and analytics companies has become a popular option as well, especially if you’re seeking vertical know-how, according to Tanauli. “IoT analytics partners can bring in the subject matter and industry expertise needed to drive project success,” he explains. Mixing the right amounts of in-house knowledge and partner capabilities will create a winning combination.
Before choosing partners, though, Pendyala recommends doing some advance legwork. “First step is to create a working or cross-departmental group, and ensure the foundational elements are there,” he says. These include security, IoT data, and other business data to mix and compare with the IoT project data.
While many IT providers start by hiring a data scientist, that may be the wrong approach, Pendyala says. Look instead, he suggests, for domain experts who can derive insights from the data and draw conclusions for ways to apply that information to improve business processes.