Strengthen your Systems Engineering Function and Start Building Your IoT Future Today

As is the case with all transformative technologies, the stack of technologies that constitute the Internet of Things (IoT) will create many winners and losers not only among technology, product, and service providers but also buyers and investors. The leadership of all well managed organizations will soon recognize they need to complete a strategic assessment of how IoT will impact their business and future and develop appropriate plans to respond. The winners that survive and thrive in the IoT era are likely to come from the ranks of those that comprehend its full potential and engage in it with the right technology and business strategy, as well as product and service offerings at an early stage. Engaging the market with early offering(s) has a number of advantages that increase your odds of winning substantially. In addition to establishing early market presence, these include accumulating critical technical skills, developing critical partnerships, and better understanding of current and future business and customer requirements than your competitors.

An organization’s ability to develop or acquire the critical technical skills needed to successfully define and implement its IoT strategy will determine its future. Whether you are a technology, product, service provider or buyer, Systems Engineering is the most critical skill you need to analyze the requirements and understand the potential of IoT and is the corner stone of your effort to formulate, develop, and/or implement the right response. Organizations that desire to be successful in the IoT era need to develop and acquire Systems Engineering competency at both the business and technical analysis and synthesis levels. This is likely to be a significant challenge as Systems Engineering talent is rare in general and talent with the right commercial sector experience is even rarer. This will also likely result in intense competition for people with the right Systems Engineering education and experience and your ability to secure these talents early may prove decisive.

The reason that Systems Engineering competency is particularly critical for IoT applications is that they are built on top of a large number of existing and emerging technologies, protocols, and standards most of which may be mature and relatively straight forward on their own, but putting and orchestrating all their activities together can quickly become very complex. The source of this complexity includes the fact that IoT applications span a number of technology, geography, and ownership domains and boundaries. Moreover, IoT applications involve making many decisions on which of the myriad of competing proprietary and standard technologies and protocols to use at the local device level, networking level, and data/analytics level. These decisions also vary considerably depending on the requirements of the targeted vertical. To get a feel of this complexity consider the following:

  • The extreme diversity in the nature and resources available on the devices we refer to as “Things” that include everything from a 5 cent sensor to a Jet Engine.
  • The over 20 short range wireless sensor network (WSN) and Local M2M and Device networking technologies, protocol, and standards available or under development.
  • The over a dozen proprietary or almost proprietary (Open Source with little or no support community) device integration choices.
  • The existing and emerging IoT-Specific Internet technology, protocol, and standard choices.
  • The large number of Internet/IP Wide Area Networking M2M technology, product, and service platform choice.
  • The large number of standalone and Cloud-based Data Integration, Storage, Management, and Analytics technology, product, and service choices.

Systems Engineering takes a holistic system, or more accurately for IoT, system of systems approach to define the requirements and ensure the delivery of products and services that successfully navigate this complexity to deliver vertically targeted IoT applications. In addition, Systems Engineering is the discipline that will enable organizations to achieve such system-wide IoT business and technology objectives that cut across all layers of the technology stack. These system-wide objectives include some IoT critical requirements such as system level security, real-time performance response guaranties, as well as data and event capture, preservation, and relevancy in addition to the traditional systems engineering objectives concerns that include system scalability, extensibility, availability, and reliability objectives.

So, don’t be late to the party and start developing your strategic IoT business and technology plans today, beef up your systems engineering now, and start engaging your IoT markets and future with the right technology, product, and service offerings.



Hussein Sallam

Principal & Managing Director

IoT Strategy Consulting, LLC

[email protected]