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4 common questions for the IoT device management beginner

With the rapid growth of connected IoT devices, device management strategies have become increasingly important for industrial IoT deployments. In fact, Gartner is predicting that the number of IoT devices will surpass 20 billion by 2020. This explosive growth across industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and more has generated greater demand for scalable, turnkey IoT device management technologies.

Industrial organizations are looking for better ways to monitor and control fleets of intelligent devices, with seamless connectivity and the flexibility to accommodate an ever-changing device landscape. Some organizations have anticipated this growth and developed a correspondingly robust device management strategy. For these organizations, this rapid proliferation — both in number of devices deployed and their diversity — isn’t daunting. But if you fall into the category of an organization that has yet to adopt a device management strategy, then it is time to act.

Before diving headfirst into developing a skunkworks solution or asking IT to allocate budget, set yourself up for success by first addressing the basics. These most commonly asked IoT device management questions can help you to evaluate the structure of your organization and determine the best device management strategy to achieve your IoT goals.

1. What is the nature of IoT devices?
IoT device management often deals with mission-critical, industrial equipment, where uptime is crucial. These are the types of devices that perform functions that are key to a business’ core operations. So, if one is compromised or fails, the repercussions are felt throughout the entire organization. The variety and complexity of IoT devices is also extremely broad. The spectrum stretches from two-dollar temperature sensors to million-dollar wind turbines, which is why IoT device management systems are designed to control a range of device types with varying levels of sophistication.

2. What is the focus of IoT device management?
Organizations that turn to IoT device management are looking to take their IoT to the next level and enable advanced functionality. For example, some companies use IoT device management to get more from their digital twins — virtual representations of physical objects in the digital domain, whose information is typically stored and updated in a device registry. Advanced digital twin design allows companies to analyze devices as a group and model their behavior as a collective.

IoT device management can also help businesses use predictive capabilities by extending its reach into the field. They can analyze historical data across devices such as device state, telemetry and prior failure information, which can be matched against current fault data and other devices for root cause analysis. For example, an oil refinery can use data insights about a pump’s health, as well as like assets across a population, to foresee an upcoming failure.

3. How much can IoT devices scale?
As the population of connected devices grows exponentially by the day, there’s seemingly no limit to how far the ratio of devices to people can skew in favor of the former. In a modern IoT deployment, it is not uncommon for the scale of devices to grow to hundreds of thousands, millions or even tens of millions of devices. The sheer number of devices generates countless extra details and issues, which can lead to a host of scalability problems that only IoT can solve.

4. How frequently do IoT devices need to be updated?
In a modern IoT deployment, cloud-based systems need to update IoT devices often. Although devices vary broadly, many types include human-facing aspects used for marketing or training purposes. For example, a connected vending machine may require content updates that can include images or videos, which go well beyond the capabilities required for your average configuration change or software update. It’s not inconceivable that this content will need to be updated as frequently as daily.

As connected devices become more prevalent and IoT adoption continues to spread, the challenges surrounding device management will only grow. The best way a business can equip itself to navigate the changing landscape is to approach digital transformation efforts with careful planning and the right strategies. To set yourself up for success, continue to innovate on features that keep you focused on business goals and make sure key enablers are in place to support the long-term scalability of your device management strategy.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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