In the last two years I have done a lot of discussions with customers about the Software-as-a-Service model in the context of industrial IoT and the benefits it could bring to their business: how it can boost their existing revenue channels and how IoT shifts the business models. Most of the time they have heard about the opportunities enabled by IoT and the first issues they bring up are security and liability: How secure is my data on your servers; how can we be sure you or third parties do not use my data, who is liable if something goes wrong, and so on.

When we talk about security, managers often presume that having control of the servers and the data inhouse is the most secure way to protect the company’s secrets. But I remember a conversation with the production manager at a bakery in US, and when I asked him whether building a proprietory IT solution is their core competency he answered “No”. Do they have security certification and security specialists like those of a big data center? “No”. Well, how can you feel secure about an inhouse solution then? “Hmm… ”.
Three challenges when selling IoT and SaaS
The story above ended with integration of HutGrip platform, because the production manager wanted to pass the burden of IT to someone else: development, server rooms, backups, etc. Moreover, adopting SaaS helped move the costs from CapEx to OpEx.

About the privacy and data ownership concerns: of course, the data belongs to the client and it is not aggregated, summarized and provided to third parties by any means. Moreover, we always recommend data anonymization. Here is a definition of data anonymization from Wikipedia:

Data anonymization enables the transfer of information across a boundary, such as between two departments within an agency or between two agencies, while reducing the risk of unintended disclosure, and in certain environments in a manner that enables evaluation and analytics post-anonymization.”

For that project, they decided to use their internal codes and naming conventions, which doesn’t make any sense for a person outside the organization.

When data privacy and security issues are addressed properly, just like in the examples above, this clears the path for further business opportunities discussion. And then comes the more tricky part – how to show exactly where and how the IoT and SaaS can fit the customer’s business needs and align those needs with the technology integration. Here ‘one size fits all’ does not work, so it is our job, as consultants, to facilitate the process of integration by asking the right questions and, together with the client, estimate the financial benefits, the integration costs and validate the results.

To conclude, I want to say that customers need solutions and you should have this in mind when selling IoT. Being only a platform provider is not enough since additional efforts are needed in order to build something that works for that specific client. And if the security, privacy and liability questions have some “standard” answers that could address the concerns of most potential customers, the question about what and how exactly IoT relates to the customer’s financial goals is the biggest challenge.

* Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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HutGrip is an industrial IoT solution developed and owned by IndigoVerge. If you are interested in IIoT consulting and implementation for a similar or another IoT project, please get in touch with IndigoVerge team.