Fun fact. The Portobello mushroom, a popular meat substitute, was originally considered an inedible byproduct crop and thrown away. Then in the 1980s, American farmers launched a marketing campaign touting the fungus as a hamburger substitute. Today, the mushroom is one of the biggest selling fungi varieties in the world, with annual sales in the billions.
What does this have to do with IoT? Think of the mushroom crop as being all the data your devices generate. Most of that information, if not all, is wasted unless you know the secrets to converting raw data into a recurring revenue model.
40 years ago this would have been trash
Think like a marketer, profit like a farmer
The amount of data generated by IoT-enabled devices is going to dwarf anything before it. Finding the kernels of actionable information from such an onslaught is worse than finding a needle in a haystack. Companies know this, but most can’t monetize data on their own for any number of reasons (budget, resources, lack of knowledge, or other initiatives)—they are content to profit only from what the devices are designed to do.
This is where you truly can maximize your business. First, you easily can expand your offerings by becoming a Big Data analytics company, an outsourced marketing company, or both. If you are acting as an IoT service provider and ‘fully in control’ of all the data (you own the data generated), you can offer analytics as an up-sell to your customers. Likewise, if you are simply providing an IoT infrastructure, you can offer to analyze the customer data as an additional service—you generally will have access to the data anyway.
Of course, offering analytics requires you to understand customer business needs. For example, data indicating temperature variations of .001 degrees might be superfluous for a roadway construction firm, but invaluable to a medical facility. Therefore, the question isn’t about finding a needle in a haystack, but what type of needle. IoT-enabled devices, even those with well-defined tasks, can gather an infinite amount of minutiae in a very short time span. Knowing exactly what is being sought is critical when delivering actionable Big Data results.
Also keep in mind that most customers don’t know what they don’t know. By presenting solid, turnkey Big Data solutions, you can broaden their horizons as to what’s possible, including offering different levels of service. Or to put it another way, it can’t hurt to ask!
Plan. And it’s simpler than you think
Expanding your IoT business via marketing functions is not as challenging as it may seem. Simple steps can get you on the road to profitability in short order:
- Examine your customers’ own key infrastructure elements (data sources, storage, analysis, and output) to determine the level at which they already are gathering in-house data.
- Strategize with your customers to define clear business objectives in order to only mine the data needed. Don’t have the expertise? Partner with a marketing consultant if you believe the situation warrants it.
- Incorporate open source Big Data software, like Hadoop, running on inexpensive, off-the-shelf distributed storage hardware. Keep in mind that while the overall costs are low, the learning curve is high—you may want to outsource development to an IT professional.
- If you don’t have the time or resources for an open source solution, consider Big Data as a Service (BDaaS) solutions. This somewhat generic term broadly refers to renting cloud storage and analytics engines, in addition to pay-as-you-go data crunching, based on your parameters. Technological advances have made BDaaS surprisingly affordable.
Converting oceans of IoT-based data into an actionable and profitable revenue source is a mega-growth industry that potentially could overtake IoT itself. By altering (or expanding) your business model to include a mushroom farmer approach, you, too, can get in on the ground floor.
For more information on IoT data usage, contact Neo.