With the competition increasing day-by-day, the companies are required to improve all operational processes continuously for efficiency and higher customer satisfaction. The most effective way to achieve this improvement is by using IoT technologies that will provide, real-time data from field operations and accurate analysis. Imagine having to reduce energy consumption costs in a retail chain with 100's of branches, where would you start first? Probably the first step would be to implement an infrastructure where you can measure the energy consumption data of all branches instantly. It is quite possible that you will not be satisfied with this and want to collect and analyze data on the operation of the equipment and systems such as coolers, air conditioners, lighting, which cause energy consumption. In today's business life, as in this example, all industries have targets to increase efficiency, quality, occupational safety and customer satisfaction to a higher level and gain competitive advantage in various areas. In this article, we will analyze what kind of platform and technical competencies should IoT solutions possess, in order to achieve these goals.
The first criteria we will consider is the security of the platform. It is essential to implement a system, where you will keep the data of the company with huge importance, should have a reliable end-to-end cyber security level. The platform should have limits against brute force password attempts, filter web requests containing SQL injection, include automated measures against dozens of attacks such as XSS attacks, DDoS attacks or HTTP floods. Of course, it should not be overlooked that a system that will provide information security at this level can only be developed by expert software team, and cheap meat yields dilute soup. It is also an indispensable criteria for the platform to pass the penetration tests performed by 3rd party expert companies regularly.
Our second criteria is the big data infrastructure and reporting power that comes with the solution. While IoT systems are producing data at an unimaginable size even today, according to IDC's report dated 2019, the amount of data produced by IoT devices will reach 79.4 Zetabytes in 2025. The most effective way to make use of big data is to store this data simultaneously in the right database according to the usage, and to process it in the area where each database is strong. Therefore, choosing a SQL-based database and storing the data will be equivalent to throwing away all the investment made. A flexible, user friendly and high-performance reporting infrastructure is essential to extract insights that can reduce costs or increase sales from data collected from the field. It will be much more efficient, if visual tools are also offered with the platform that will allow you to capture important points without being overwhelmed by data.
Our third criteria is to have a flexible rule module that will enable you to detect abnormalities. Controlling data from thousands of sensors 24/7 is an impossible task for a person, fortunately an IoT platform with a powerful rule and alarm module can easily handle these tasks. Let's go back to the example of the retail chain where we want to save energy. You have studied the data and have a clear knowledge of the situations where unnecessary energy consumption occur. Let's say, you also determined the rules to be followed regarding this. You may have dozens of rules such as you want to be aware of a lamp staying on during daytime or notifying the store manager instantly if the door of the coolers remain open for more than 1 minute. The IoT platform you choose should allow you to define rules without limits according to the time intervals and other conditions you want from various sensor data, and enable them to take action by informing all related parties immediately when something goes wrong. Even a disaster like Chernobyl could have been prevented if it could be monitored with a good IoT platform and a strong rule module, fortunately our goals are much more modest than that.
Finally, we can discuss the integration capabilities of the platform. In order to achieve a successful result, it is very important that many systems are aware of each other and can trigger one another. For example, you have set a rule that a machine that is constantly working should never stop outside of lunch and/or break hours, when the machine malfunctions, the IoT platform can instantly transfer this information to the ERP system and enable work orders for maintenance teams. For these and similar needs, the IoT platform must have an application development interface (API) and must be developed with an "API First" approach. Thus, the application will be able to use all its capacity to collaborate with other systems.