Adopting Internet of Things (IoT) technology is spreading across many industries-especially among businesses. With this continued growth, the IoT market is on pace to grow over $3 trillion annually by 2026, according to Business Insider. With how the IoT industry is growing, if the device can be connected, it WILL be connected. So where does BI come into play? Linking BI to your overall IoT strategy will mean making smarter, more intelligent solutions that will transform you organization. So what is the best way to do that? Mapping out the right strategy that links these two technologies together means creating opportunities and growth for the overall business. If you’re not working smarter, you’re working harder….for no reason other than your organization isn’t taking advantage of the technology out there to make sure your business is thriving.

Take note of the reference architecture and hardware

Before you connect your BI software to your IoT strategy, you’ll want to take a step back and look at your overall IoT framework. How will BI play a part in that framework? Certain components need to be in place in order to have a successful link between the two. An IoT platform needs to have the ability to support software advancements while catering to business functions and applications. An organization’s IoT strategy must be able to capture valuable information and process data. The right IoT technology needs to be in place in order to marry those sensors and devices to the BI software.

With having so many sensors in place that are transmitting so much data, considering how advanced the network is, is critical. The network requirements will undoubtedly evolve as equipment is upgraded and your operations either increases in size or becomes more sophisticated- but organizations will need a fast, agile network to keep up. Rather than working with a traditional data center, you may want to start considering a cloud data center if the budget allows for it.

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Software and connectivity- what’s important?

Having the correct hardware is step one. Step two is having the right software that will connect all of those devices and spring that data into action with the right BI software. BI will allow an organization to collect data in real-time compared to results that used to come into play months later. All BI applications today include support for basic dashboards; however the more valuable options are flexible enough to allow the user to define metrics and performance measures that are catered to your business. BI software such as Microsoft’s Power BI has advanced data visualization tools, but it’s important to know that this is supported.

With all of that data being connected and transferred between devices, security is another factor to include during this setup and this goes back to the overall infrastructure to ensure that everything delivers end-to-end security and visibility- especially in an industry when a lot of sensitive, proprietary data is being collected and used and visualized in a BI application. Investing in making sure the network and customer data is secure is important and should be taken into careful consideration as the IoT alone has significantly increased in complexity and it’s been difficult to keep up with what needs to be done to make sure all of that data is secure. Believe it or not, most of the IoT devices out there right now are not secure and your BI solution will mean nothing if your IoT devices have been hacked and are not operating properly.

Applying Data Filters

Many organizations already have or are in the process of implementing an IoT strategy, but the other half of the puzzle once they obtain that data is filtering the valuable data into actionable data—cue a BI solution. BI is the technology that is going to transform that raw data into actionable data. Building a real-time IoT dashboard allows users to see incoming data in real-time in a constant stream. For example, with Microsoft’s Power BI, a user can prepare to stream a dataset by connecting the necessary sensors to the Raspberry Pi. Data can be setup and visualized in the dashboard. In order to successfully connect BI to an IoT solution, identifying what data you need and how you’re going to connect it to the BI software are critical next steps in order for the organization to reap the benefits.

Connecting IoT sensors to BI will allow users to monitor and visualize sensor data in real-time. IoT analytics is almost a necessity to get the most out of an IoT solution, especially in industrial settings. Predictive maintenance and reporting are invaluable when it could cost an organization millions of dollars per day due to equipment downtime. The value of IoT is harnessed when organizations take a dive into these analytics. Properly linking each device and visualizing them on a dashboard will be the key to unlock important data and create a business plan based on that collected data. Does the organization need to invest in new equipment? Does the maintenance team need to perform more frequent system checks? Predictive and Preventive analytics to identify potential failure points or to understand general device behavior is the true ROI behind linking IoT to BI.

Once you’ve built a connected environment with your IoT devices and a BI platform, it’s vital to continue monitoring the two. As a business generates more data over time, there will be larger datasets that will require new and enhanced techniques to process and analyze that data.

Think of adding BI to your IoT strategy as business insurance. It’s your way to make sure everything is running smoothly and taking these steps to connect the two will allow you to take action before something catastrophic happens within the operations. It’s the missing link that will allow everyone in the organization to understand the behavior and performance within operations and realize the ROI behind your organization’s IoT initiatives.

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