How IoT Architects Shape a Deployment
IoT architects (sometimes known as IoT solutions architects) provide both technical and strategic oversight for IoT deployments. These professionals work with virtually every team within a company to think through how said deployment might impact business objectives, what technology stack will best achieve the goals of the project, and how to design an effective and efficient system from the ground up.
- Devices: The sensors and other hardware that collect and share data
- Network: The system of gateways, nodes, and routers that move the data from one place to the next
- Applications: The software, often hosted in the cloud, that puts the data to use in a variety of ways
More complex systems may include a robust processing component, where data is sorted thoroughly before being sent to applications, or a business layer that manages all the applications to ensure they meet the deployment’s requirements.
IoT architects help ensure solutions align with core business strategies, which is an important step toward keeping deployments from failing due to poor design. They can also serve as the necessary domain experts to ensure companies have the right elements incorporated into their projects.
IoT Architects Must Be Visionaries and Translators
To ensure effective IoT deployments, architects have to be both visionaries and translators. In their role, they look across the big picture for an optimized deployment and then communicate that vision across different business units within the company.
As the project gets underway, one of an IoT architect’s key roles is to identify the necessary elements of the deployment, determine how they will work together, and make the case for those components across departments. IoT architects have to be able to take a set of proposed business outcomes and develop an approach that will meet those needs and yield a solution that, once deployed, will provide the desired results.
Take, for example, IoT healthcare applications hoping to develop a system that monitors diabetes in elderly patients. The architect would need to consider how the devices will track, send, and process biometric and environmental data from patients or their dedicated care facilities, plan how to handle and store that data while remaining compliant with HIPAA, and share appropriate insights with relevant healthcare organizations and researchers. As the architect works across the organization, they might have to explain to the CEO why a specific data security protocol is appropriate for this business case, even if that requires providing a higher-level view of a highly technical solution. In turn, they might have to make the case to the IT team that a particular type of network hand-off will provide the appropriate level of security to best protect the data passing through.
A successful architect also needs to have a solid understanding of their company’s true strengths and how the IoT solution that they’re planning will build upon them. A 2018 McKinsey study of companies across 11 industries in North America, Europe, and Asia showed the companies that had the biggest economic benefit from IoT deployments did so in ways that built upon products and lines of business they already had in place. By planning systems that support existing products and strategies, IoT architects may have an easier time engaging internal teams and helping them see the power of the deployment to support their goals.
IoT Architects Think Beyond the Deployment
It’s also important that IoT architects hold a long-term strategic vision for the project. The role requires understanding how the initial architecture will eventually need to grow and scale as the project changes post-deployment.
For example, the architect needs to take into consideration changes in global connectivity protocols and how they shift from region to region. They also need to consider how to future-proof devices and network connections for long-term relevance. That might involve thinking through potential policy shifts, network changes, and technology advances on the horizon.
Likewise, thinking about how devices will be powered over the long term, including methods to make them more sustainable, is something within the architect’s purview. Keeping devices powered is key to smooth and continuous data collection and an essential piece of any deployment that needs to be considered for maximum long-term projects.
Security, of course, is another contingency the IoT architect must take into account. With new cybersecurity threats cropping up all the time, it’s impossible to create a deployment that completely safeguards the system against every possibility. Nonetheless, thinking strategically about what threats might arise and building in contingencies to help mitigate them is part of the architect’s role.
The Key To a Successful Deployment
IoT architects’ work lays the groundwork for successful IoT deployments. They provide the strategic vision to carry the project through in ways that meet business goals, they think through ways of future-proofing the technology, and they hold those two priorities while working across business units to ensure project success. As such, they are a critical member of the overall IoT project team.
Soracom can support IoT architects with a variety of technical solutions that may support their overall deployment plan. To learn more and to get started, get in touch with our team of IoT experts.