Design considerations for your IoT solution

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to revolutionize all aspects of life. From homes, to cities, to industrial products – the IoT aims to make daily life easier and streamline business operations.

Initial cases have focused on reducing costs. However, the goal for most companies targeting the Internet of Things is to generate new revenues and develop new products and services. Companies are already changing their organizational structures to reflect the new reality that is IoT.

For more than three years, HSB has been researching, testing, and evaluating IoT technology. In addition, HSB has been active in developing commercial IoT programs and making investments in the industry.

IoT is a massive systems engineering challenge due to the complexity caused by interfaces between the physical and digital world, and the following items must be considered to have a successful design.

Fully integrate your team

The IoT represents a convergence of the physical and digital world, so teams should be made up of both digital and physical experts. Without full integration, teams delay schedules and cause rework in the long run.

HSB’s IoT team combines networking and software specialists and meshes them with hardware and application engineers who share varied backgrounds.

The scope of the IoT is potentially so broad that integrating multiple disciplines and specialties will help you recognize and head off any issues before they grow into a problem.

Learn by doing

Many IoT solutions and vendors present solutions that sound great on paper, but haven’t been fully tested in the real world. Designers should ask the questions:

  • How do these devices communicate?
  • How does this solution scale?
  • Is the installation process intuitive?
  • Is the installation disruptive?
  • Is the IoT device useful? Does it solve the problem it was intended to solve?
  • Do alerts provide actionable intelligence or simply repeated noise?

Don’t sweat being first to market

Many companies promise a lot and place high importance on being the first solution to market new features. However, being the first solution does not mean it’s the best solution.

This report found that two out of three of consumers struggle to use common IoT devices, and many end up returning them. These problems can be reduced by having a fully baked solution with a user experience to match.

Focus on adding value and product differentiation

Remember, the key driver behind any IoT solution is to add value.

If the IoT did not provide the potential of a tremendous amount of value at a low cost, there wouldn’t be discussions about adding it to designs or creating IoT-based solutions in the first place.

Design objectives and requirements should focus on where your solution adds value to the end user. The ability to tie revenue generating services into your solution that help the client should be your end goal.

The Internet of Things is changing the landscape of all industries, including and especially insurance. You and your team should be able to navigate through it using sound engineering approaches for your solution and focusing on value creation and positive user experiences.

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© 2016 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is intended for information purposes only. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this article.

Michael Crowl

Michael is senior engineer at Hartford Steam Boiler, focusing on IoT technology research and product development. He is a chemical engineer with experience designing, testing and troubleshooting engineering systems covering a variety of fields, including chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering.

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