IoT Consultancy Services 

Customers often ask us, "How can we use the internet of things to improve our service offering?"

Sometimes they want to do more, while other times they want to provide existing services more cheaply.

It's clear that the internet of things allows you to do either of these things, or both. But it needs to be done right, with a clear set of objectives, and a thorough understanding of the technology available today. Without that vision and support, the project may fail to deliver anything useful, may overspend, or it will take so long that competitors will be there first.

A further consideration is how the system will be maintained in the longer term. A system developed in-house or on a limited-capability platform may suffice for a while, but may not be cost-effective in the longer term, and may be impossible to scale.

Our team has considerable experience in building customer portals for the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine to machine (M2M) systems.

IoT Strategy

We will work with you to draw up an IoT strategy. This is looking at how the new service will fit within your overall business.

Budget planning is a part of this process, and it's critical to be realistic. That doesn't necessarily mean higher: we see clients who spend surprisingly large sums on projects; they may achieve less than they intend because the vision isn't right, or because the team have been drafted in from more traditional IT development roles.

Timescales must be considered carefully. The internet of things is developing at an alarming rate; and yet projects can take years. Why? Because of unexpected steps, such as regulatory compliance for a new wireless device, that nobody factored in.

Systems Architecture

IoT systems can be surprisingly different from conventional IT systems in a number of ways.

The types of data from "things", or assets, may evolve quickly; and data arriving at a central server may be massive. So conventional relational databases may no longer suffice, as the conventional Cartesian table approach is too wooden, and there is a heavy data-write cycle compared with data-reads.

The overall amount of data stored can also grow exponentially. If your IoT project involves acquiring new customers in new markets, successful sales may become a nightmare, if capacity is not planned in.

So we make use of "no SQL" databases, and ones which can be distributed across multiple servers in the cloud. This optimises flexibility and makes provision for high speed, high volume operation.

Information Architecture

We consider how information from assets is structured, such as whether assets need to be grouped together geographically, by type, some other way, or not at all.

As we work a good deal in the industrial internet of things, we typically find that it's helpful to work with hierarchies, such as plant/office locations, buildings or floors, rooms or production lines, groups of assets, and then individual assets.

Data may arrive from individual assets at the bottom of this pyramid, but through clever processing the raw data is distilled upwards through the levels, and eventually becomes management information. Incredibly, a picture of what's going on in an entire geographical region — trends, statistics, reports and other knowledge — can be generated in real time.

User interface and persona

Data from the internet of things is usually intended for the consumption of specific personnel.

We consider the user carefully, including creating personas for the different users of the system. 

They can fall into several groups. For example, the provider organisation (your company) may want to be "superusers" who can in turn create your customer users. Those users may be further sub-divided into management, technical or operational personnel. You may also have maintenance staff who need access.

We consider these personas carefully, and can specify and design dashboard interfaces that contain the appropriate features according to which user is using the system.

Integration

We are often asked to integrate an IoT system with an existing IT system.

This can be more complex than it sounds. In some cases clients require single sign-on type functionality, while in others there is a need to capture ERP (enterprise resource planning) data. 

IoT portals can also be used as sales tools. For example, when sensors are monitoring the use of some consumable (among other things), the portal to which they send data may well be an appropriate place to let customers order further consumables.

We have experience in a range of such integrations and will advise you on these things.

Interface Design

Our skilled creative design team create stunning designs for web-based customer portals.

We build responsive portals, so that they are easy to use on both desktop and mobile devices.

Where a customer has an existing brand to comply with, we create a design which blends with your overall online presence, or other portals.

Data visualisation is a key part of any interface, and so when creating this important element we take into account the nature of the data being handled.

Want to know more?

Please contact us if you would like an informal discussion with one of our IoT Consultants.