Less is More

Focusing on business, not tech

Nearly two decades of experience in IoT has a tendency to put you face-to-face with many IoT problem statements; pages and pages highlighting the technology, what data is to be collected, the tools, how to do it, what should be used and much more. Yet not one of them ever mentioned the actual business problem.

Nothing in this world is free. Every piece of data that is collected from a site costs money. From sensor purchase, installation and commissioning, ongoing maintenance, data bandwidth, storage, end of life costs — the list is endless. And these technical solutions, while excellent in design, simply ramp up these costs.

This is why IoT providers should look for more value extraction for businesses as opposed to the nuts and bolts of how to achieve it. If we focus on the business outcome, the total cost of ownership of IoT solutions will reduce drastically and users will benefit.

Let’s make this a little less abstract with an example. We once had a customer who wanted to monitor the grid energy consumption and load DC energy consumption for a rectifier power system. The widely followed solution — to measure the DC energy using a DC energy meter and the grid energy using a grid meter. It would be accurate and 100% hassle free.

What is forgotten is that it would also be more expensive as we need to use two meters compared to a more efficient solution. And this alternate solution was the one we used.

We suggested that we could measure only the DC energy and apply an efficiency factor and compute the grid energy consumed. It might give us 95% accurate results, but it would be great from an operations, cost and performance point of view. And this solution has continued to work in the field saving the customer tons of money.

100% data accuracy is great in a lab. However, in the real world, it is often very expensive. Engineering is about focusing on the bigger picture (that’s why pi=e=3). As businessmen and engineers, we need to rid ourselves of this 100% obsession, and instead focus on maximizing business and cost benefits for the users. The less sensors, machinery, equipment and data we invest into the project, the higher the ROI. Success lies in getting as high an accuracy as possible with as minimal a cost as possible. Remember, in business, and in IoT, Less is More.

For more details, visit https://www.6thenergy.com or contact the author rajan@6thenergy.com.

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