The time, cost, and complexity of implementing IoT solutions often prevent organizations from moving their IoT initiatives out of the proof-of-concept phase—35% of enterprises struggle to move beyond this stage1 —and realizing the maximum value of IoT.
Why is Deploying IoT Difficult?
According to a recent survey by 451 Research, 28% of enterprise respondents indicated that technology deployment challenges are a key inhibitor for enterprises looking to deploy IoT solutions. These challenges stem from the increased complexity of IoT deployments, usually involving multiple vendors—61% of enterprises work with 2-5 vendors, while companies $10B+ in revenue can get up to 132—responsible for a component of the solution (e.g., hardware, software, and connectivity). Additionally, enterprise deployments are highly specialized and complex deployments that involve multiple stakeholders with different roles within each stage of the process—from planning to execution to ongoing support.
Take, for example, a quick service restaurant (QSR) chain that’s exploring an IoT-enabled temperature monitoring solution to automate temperature logging processes and streamline food safety and compliance reporting. After completing a successful pilot to validate the use case, the company decides they want to rollout the solution to all their locations nationwide. Deploying and managing the solution at a small number of locations is fairly simple, but how do they scale the solution from 50 locations to tens of thousands of locations?
Remove the Burden from IT/OT Teams
As distributed enterprises strive to modernize their technology infrastructure, like in the example of the QSR chain, IT/OT teams are increasingly overwhelmed with managing the day-to-day operations for multi-disciplined, complex, distributed deployments. From struggling to scale resources and oversee multiple vendors, to keeping projects on time and under budget, few organizations have the expertise to orchestrate the project-based work critical to the success of their IoT initiatives and bottom line.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. By outsourcing this complex, project-based work to an experienced IoT deployment services partner, many of these challenges can be mitigated. At the same time, outsourcing this work removes the burden on internal IT/OT staff, freeing up their time to focus on more strategic initiatives that are core to the business.
According to Microsoft’s 2021 IoT Signals report, organizations that outsource IoT implementation experience fewer business-related implementation challenges and achieve greater success with their IoT initiatives. However, much like selecting the right IoT network provider is critical to the success of an IoT project, so is selecting the right IoT deployment services partner. The even better approach is finding a partner who can provide both.
Considerations for Selecting the Right Deployment Services Provider
The landscape for deployment services is generally comprised of regional providers who partner with third-party companies to deploy and manage IoT solutions at scale. As a result, each provider will offer different capabilities and have different strengths or weaknesses. Here are some key considerations when evaluating the capabilities.
- Scalability: There are many smaller firms that act as aggregators and often outsource their vendors, which could lead to reliability issues and delays in deployment schedules. Look for providers who can provide extensive coverage on a national or global scale and have the network assets and managed services capabilities to drive additional strategic value.
- Support: With a single partner solution, you benefit from having a partner that can manage the end-to-end services and full project lifecycle of a deployment. Whether it’s identifying project constraints to estimating and scheduling the deployment timeline to executing and closing out the project, you want a provider that can provide you support start to finish—and even after.
- Speed: When deploying across multiple locations or areas, time is of the essence. Using the QSR example, when you have a single provider that can manage the deployment of several locations simultaneously and with the expertise and accuracy needed, you have the ability to scale from 50 locations to tens of thousands of locations. That leads to a quicker time to market.
- Reliability: You want to look for a provider that can get it done right the first time. That means identifying a deployment partner who really understands your business case and not just the technology. For example, if you’re installing a temperature monitoring solution in a cooler that opens and closes frequently, sensor placement becomes a key element. With the right partner, you will understand that placing the sensor at the warmest part of the cooler as well as considerations for how to secure it to minimize the risk of it getting knocked off or bumped will allow for data accuracy. Therefore, when you partner with a company that has a deep understanding of both the technology and use case, like the example above, it increases the likelihood of project success.
- Full-Lifecycle Support Capabilities: Customers need a reliable partner who can coordinate the installation, assessment, troubleshooting, and repair of IT assets on both a scheduled (planned deployment) and unscheduled (responsive) basis. For distributed enterprises—like the QSR example—an on-site IT presence isn’t likely at every location. So, it becomes critical to ensure that a resource who is familiar with the technology, the use case, and the installation process is available quickly. Thus full-lifecycle support is a key differentiator to a successful IoT deployment.
A Winning Model for IoT Deployment Services
MachineQ, a Comcast Company, in partnership with Comcast Business, provides the end-to-end network connectivity and deployment services that enable today’s enterprise to leverage the increasingly network- and internet-dependent technologies that fuel competition and drive business outcomes. MachineQ provides a fully integrated IoT network connectivity platform, making it simple for enterprises to deploy a dedicated LoRaWAN network to power their solutions. Comcast Business provides complete lifecycle technology and infrastructure management services nationwide, using a technology-agnostic approach. The result is a single partner for IoT hardware, software, connectivity, deployment services, and maintenance, which drastically simplifies the rollout of IoT initiatives and time to market.
1 Overcoming IoT pilot project purgatory: Vendor partners play a pivotal role; 451 Research, Nov 2021
2 Voice of the Enterprise: Internet of Things, OT Perspective, Use Cases and Outcomes, 451 Research, 2021