by Stephanie Atkinson

IoT and connected device lifecycle management

Dec 07, 2017
Internet of Things

Now that we're experiencing real-live deployments in business and government, we must think about what happens as we manage, secure, recycle and repurpose all of these connected devices.

wireless network - industrial internet of things edge [IoT] - edge computing
Credit: Thinkstock

For more than a decade the mobile industry has focused on the management of handheld devices and computing. Fast forward to today and we are experiencing real discussions around IoT device lifecycle management.

What happens to the repair, maintenance, insurance, warranty, replacement and end of life services that need to be provided for the billions of connected devices being managed globally, and who will be responsible for providing those services?

When thinking about connected devices, let’s just focus in on industrial and machine-to-machine connected devices. These may include devices used for tracking, monitoring, alerting, diagnostics, distribution, logistics management, digital content display, surveillance, inspection, safety response, machine communications and many other core applications. Each of these applications will have common and unique IoT device lifecycle patterns and processes that start from the R&D/manufacturing stage and move to end of life and recycling stage.

Below is a brief introduction into the five phases of IoT device lifecycle management.

1. Research and development

The R&D phase includes areas such as testing, trial and error, refinement, embedded security and other requirements, along with production runs for review and improvements. This phase is where many of the engineers work their magic, and this is also the area we are hearing needs to increase their review and processes for embedded security for supporting improved security of the device once it is deployed and operational.

2. Manufacture

This phase includes the production of connected devices.

3. Install and deploy

This phase includes installation, integration, set-up, kitting, dispatching and other services to get the connected devices working and communicating with other systems, software and business tools.

4. Service and maintain

This phase is where we expect to see a need for additional services. As devices malfunction, breakdown, become compromised (security, weather, aged), we will need better options for fast and reliable repair, warranty and even insurance to cover business loss in case of short-term or long-term disruption of business or operations. Just as we have warranty, repair and insurance related services for the devices we carry, we will have a growing need (especially in business or corporate) to have assurances for zero to little down-time of operations and business services.

This phase is also important as it is focused on the management of all IoT and connected devices including providing physical and network security of the device, providing visibility of the devices (platform, portal, moves-adds-changes, troubleshooting), configuration, software updates management and much more. As this phase becomes the longest phase and the most vital to operations, we expect to see services rolled out by the carriers, IoT vendors, integrators and other tech companies, as well as see future IoT companies launch or evolve that are dedicated solely to IoT device lifecycle management.

5. End of life

This phase is also an area that I believe is under-looked but will present huge opportunities for the market. What happens to older versions, retired models, aging equipment and end of life connected devices. Just as we have a secondary market for smartphones and tablets, we will also see an opportunity for secondary markets for connected devices. This may be in both consumer and commercial application areas. In addition, as we deem equipment as not suitable for the secondary market, there will also be a market for recycling precious metals, parts, batteries and other materials. Again, we are talking billions of devices that will need to be recycled to protect our resources.

The “Service and Maintain” phase is the main phase where technology decision-makers will continue to struggle with as budgets become tightened, stakeholders vary across department and business lines and the fast pace growth of emerging technologies in business scales at a faster pace than skilled staffing and available resources. Seek out vendors who have a strong knowledge base of the entire device lifecycle of your IoT and connected devices, machines, fleets and assets.

Finally, now that we are experiencing real-live deployments in business and government, we must think about what happens as we manage and secure these connected devices, and also how we recycle and repurpose these devices into the market.