The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a network of interconnected devices offering industrial companies huge potential benefits like smart maintenance, improved supply chain management, and greater operational visibility. In a recent survey of primarily IT professionals, 82% of respondents noted they “have either implemented IIoT, are running a pilot project, or are considering it.”
However, companies face IIoT adoption challenges such as high costs and security. The biggest challenge for businesses that want to integrate this technology is the lack of skills in fields such as security, analytical/data science, and tech support. While you can work to improve employee knowledge in those areas, you can also hire an outside vendor to help.
The level of expertise these professionals can provide may be especially useful if you need to develop software for IIoT applications. In these cases, you can hire a software development agency and outsource quality assurance services as well. Keep in mind, however, that outsourcing comes with problems. If you decide to use this approach, consider the following suggestions to avoid potential pitfalls.
Hiring the Wrong Company
The items in the sections below represent errors or oversights that an outsourced software development firm could make within an engagement with your company. You can prevent many of them by hiring a vendor who has skills and experience compatible with your needs.
When looking to outsource for IIoT software development, choose a vendor with experience in this specialization. They should understand your environment and how you will deploy IIoT solutions, keeping the end-user in mind during all phases of development.
To begin researching a vendor to hire, determine the problem you expect to solve. Ask potential agencies if they’ve addressed this issue within past projects. Consider asking the following questions as well:
- How long will the development process take?
- What is your testing process?
- How involved will you expect our team to be?
- What are the provisions in your contract?
- What kind of assistance can we expect once the project is complete?
- What is the cost of services?
Given the many benefits of integrating IIoT solutions into your operations, your company is likely to grow. When this happens, you’ll want your technology solutions to grow with you as much as possible rather than having to start from scratch to develop entirely new systems.
Software developed by an outsourced vendor should include the capability to incorporate updated infrastructure and new devices to scale along with your business needs. To ensure the provider you choose can deliver this level of service, add some questions about handling future upgrades to the list above.
As with all internet-based technology, security should be a major concern. Any connected device is a potential target for hackers. All it takes is one breach for an entire network to become compromised. As the number of IIoT devices grows, IIoT-based cyberattacks will increase as well.
When outsourcing software development for IIoT applications, ensure the vendor you hire incorporates robust security, including data encryption, authentication, network connectivity, device protection, and application and cloud security. Keep in mind that enterprise security may need to be updated to accommodate new risks.
User experience can make or break the perceived success of a software development project, so design should be as much a part of the process as any technical considerations. For industrial environments, the user interface should focus on operational visualization to contribute to efficient decision-making.
Outsourced IIoT software developers should collaborate closely with designers to ensure seamless operation for authentication, customization, and ongoing use. For starters, they should consider the following design components:
- Appropriate feature set
- Easy and obvious pathways to perform specific functions
- Clean, unobtrusive graphics and easy-to-read text
- Simple setup process
Testing is critical to ensure the success of any software, including IIoT applications. While testing can increase the time and cost associated with development, it can save even more time, money, and frustration down the road if the software has issues, especially security vulnerabilities.
Continuous testing, in which assessments are completed frequently throughout the development process, is the recommended method. That’s because it reveals issues while they’re relatively easy to fix and because it keeps user needs at the forefront of the process.
If your company has decided to deploy IIoT technologies, you’ll likely benefit greatly as a result. These advantages can help drive down costs, improve efficiency, and boost competitiveness. If you need to hire a developer to add custom software development to the mix, you’ll benefit even more from the customized approach.
Yet, such a partnership also has the potential to go wrong, with results ranging from software that doesn’t work as it should to serious security vulnerabilities. That’s why, as you initiate the process of finding a vendor to perform this task, take care to mitigate possible pitfalls to ensure the best possible quality of help.
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