System integrators play a unique role in the world of IoT. They bring disparate cross-vendor solutions together to create distinctive IoT ecosystems. System integrators consolidate offerings by sensor and gateway vendors, data storage providers, and IoT platforms with different functionalities to create a seamless solution to be delivered to the end customer. And many industrial enterprises take the assembly approach. That is, they leverage IoT system integration expertise to put together their use cases. At the same time, IoT platform vendors are picking up pace. In making IoT platform offerings more and more comprehensive, platform providers are now able to produce an end-to-end infrastructure for different industrial IoT application scenarios.
IoT professional services are in high demand. Most companies do not have the needed in-house expertise to integrate systems from scratch. That’s why, as building IoT architectures is becoming complex and the required know-how more specialized, the deployment of IoT technology often falls in the hands of external IoT system integration providers.
System integrators can consolidate knowledge coming from many disparate areas. This includes connectivity, embedded design, data analytics and data science, engineering, cloud and IT architectures, app development, and deployment. An IoT system integrator provides the glue that brings all these diverse skills together into a unified IoT solution that can scale.
Common Challenges to System Integration
When it comes to design and implementation, solution providers are there to create holistic strategies that will serve a company in the long term. While working on these, there are several areas that pose significant challenges:
Use Case Selection
System integration starts at the level of the connected IoT device. But where do we take it from there? Use case selection and defining the right priorities is becoming increasingly difficult in scenarios where a PoC takes months and companies may realize they are on the wrong track only after they have initiated deployment. A company may start with asset tracking and launch an elaborate pilot only to discover, half a year along the way, that the project generates no ROI and they actually need predictive maintenance.
In the crowded IoT space, IoT system integrators are now also expected to be strategic minds. They not only provide an assembly solution but also advise on use case priorities, project design, and implementation.
Design and Implementation
Most industrial enterprises do not have the in-house expertise to map out, design, and implement a fully-fledged IoT solution. So it is often the case that this task falls in the hands of system integrators. At this point, designing and, at times, implementing custom IoT solutions has become the daily bread of system integration providers.
This is a challenge on both fronts. Integrators, on the one hand, are pressed to significantly expand their levels of expertise. And companies, on the other hand, are becoming fully reliant on external expertise for their IoT projects to run smoothly.
Optimizing Processes and Bringing IoT Solutions to Market
System integrators are continuously expanding the scope of their activities. Companies are now expecting them to also advise on process optimization and go-to-market strategies. That is, manufacturing companies are now hiring system integrators as consultants.
They advice on projects to potentially help streamline shop floor activity and improve overall operational efficiency. Further, system integrators are now expected to advise on bringing smart connected solutions to market. This often takes place in a setting where solutions are offered as a service to third parties.
Scaling Digital Capabilities
Another pain point for system integrators involves not only adopting a holistic view but also creating a strategy for the long term to help organizations scale seamlessly where needed. This involves putting all pieces together in such a way that the end-to-end solution allows for scaling as a whole while making it possible for the individual components to scale as well.
For example, this involves scalable hybrid or cloud architectures. These should be able to accommodate increasing volumes of IoT data coming towards the cloud. But even more so, IoT system integrators are expected to be able to design systems where disparate assets and technologies, starting at the level of the connected device, can scale as well.
Capturing and Retaining Talent
When building up strategies for the IoT value chain, it becomes necessary to tap into the resources of different departments. These often entail highly specialized levels of know-how. At times, it is difficult to obtain a bird-eye view of all processes and see how different roles hang together.
Companies need to realise that once a solution is there, they will need to sustainably train diverse sets of specialists. At times, this means accommodating very different mindsets and making them work together. It is frequently the case that reskilling the existing talent is not enough. And retaining that talent is even more challenging in a volatile field.
The End-to-End IoT Platform
The tasks of connecting disparate solutions by different vendors, consolidating the asset landscape, harmonizing applications, and combining platforms require a holistic mindset that can guide a company all the way from initial infrastructure design to massive scale-out IoT deployment. And as setups within organizations are becoming increasingly interconnected, end-to-end integration has been established as the norm in delivering strong outcomes.
Still, IoT platform vendors are picking up pace. So it may no longer be necessary to build IoT architectures from scratch to only serve a limited number of solutions or rely on third-party talent to help you scale. End-to-end industrial IoT platforms today come with easily accessible user interfaces and the necessary infrastructure to see a project through from PoC to large-scale deployments.
This involves connecting disparate industrial assets to a single platform, collecting and storing device data, plus developing AI in the cloud and deploying back to the edge of the network. The current developments in IoT place an emphasis on knowledge related to edge-to-cloud scenarios and harmonizing the edge-to-cloud setup. And the end-to-end IoT platform can deliver just that.
The Record Evolution platform is a trusted ally in consolidating all industrial assets within an organization. The platform provides a single source of truth for all data-driven activities around industrial equipment. And it offers a seamless edge-to-cloud development cycle to meet shifting digital demands.
The development platform covers a wide array of the necessary tech stack, provides the possibility to oversee an entire project lifecycle within a single venue, and delivers key platform capabilities across the IoT value chain. Also, the entire project know-how remains within the company and is easily accessible from the platform. This gives organizations the possibility to create custom workflows for different scenarios and facilitate collaboration across departments.
About Record Evolution
We are a Data Science & IoT team based in Frankfurt am Main, committed to helping companies of all sizes to innovate at scale. So we’ve built an easy-to-use development platform enabling everyone to benefit from the powers of IoT and AI.