Many times, while checking the value created in digitalization projects we are just looking at the price of the device or asset instead of the TCO in smart solutions. But is the price of the IoT device the only cost you need to pay for in a solution?
There are many things to do before data starts to stream to a service and we must not forget about the things to be done during the whole life cycle of a service. The device needs to be installed, connected to a service, paired with a service, managed, maintained, updated, and many other things during its life cycle. Hence it is critical to consider the total cost of ownership – TCO in smart solutions instead of just the hardware.
TCO in smart solutions: what to consider besides the hardware cost
Below, we consider and present the most important factors affecting the TCO in smart solutions for buildings and offices. Actually, the TCO in smart solutions is a bit like an iceberg – there are a lot more things than meets the eye.
Pre-configuration & security
The first step is to get the service installed. To reach a real plug & play service the solution needs to be as simple as possible from the point of view of the installer. A pre-configured MESH solution with auto-routing is a perfect solution to get the installation as easy as possible. In a MESH technology, each IoT device can transmit data of other devices and data routing is automated. From the perspective of the person deploying the IoT devices, this means that the only thing they need to do is to put the power on to a device and make sure it is connected with another device. The MESH technology and pre-configuration take care of the rest in a secure way. Later on, changes in the device network do not need any manual configuration of devices or human interaction as you can just take the device, move it to a new place, and again, make sure it is getting a connection to another device. Simply put, the rerouting of data is done automatically by the MESH technology. When these are lacking the manual work and human interactions as well as human error will increase adding substantially to the total cost of ownership.
Installation tools & training
How to show on the service where the device is? And what is it measuring? For this purpose, there is a possibility to use an installation tool to make the pairing of a device with a service. Just by reading a device’s ID with a mobile tool, it is easy to point to the service where the particular device is installed. At the same time, it is easy to check if the device’s data is going to the cloud and then the visualization tool. All this is essential to ensure the quality of the installation.
To make sure that the data is really streaming to the service, connectivity for devices to the cloud is needed. How to get that in a global environment and how to manage the local connectivity? How much does it take time to arrange and manage the global connectivity? The best way to do it is to use a global roaming cellular connectivity. A good IoT device and/or gateway includes global connectivity as a service. The end-user should not need to worry about connectivity, but rather the technology provider.
Device management & maintenance
Now we are at the point to get the data to the service. But how to manage and maintain IoT devices in the future? To avoid physical visits at a site remote device management is needed. Through device management, it is possible to check if the device is working, make configurations, group devices, firmware updates, etc. All this remotely. For a massive number of devices. All these together give a set of tools to make the operation of devices very easy during the whole life cycle. Again, if the security and firmware updates as well as checking the status of the IoT devices is not possible to do remotely and in a single view then the human interaction increase exponentially which means reducing the scalability of the solution coupled and increasing the TCO in smart solutions.
As you see there are multiple things to do when you are dealing with data collection and TCO in smart solutions. All this needs time, physical visits at a site, or management actions which all means costs. If you have a well-designed data collection solution in use you can save a lot of time, effort, and concern. There are very clever solutions available that help with the data collection. Those solutions are able to scale up very wide easily and you can focus on service development and customer relations – the key thing a solution provider needs to pay most of their attention to.