Internet of things (IoT) integration enables data transmission from connected devices to software or other devices. This helps to implement data analytics to gain insights, enable real-time monitoring, and automate different processes. Yet, a Gartner Research survey shows that companies list IoT integration challenges as one of the key areas of concern when implementing IoT solutions.
Indeed, the lack of appropriate integration can lead to problems in functions as well as failure to provide value to the clients. The good news is that all challenges can be solved, if handled timely and effectively. In this article, the JatApp team is unpacking practical solutions to common IoT integration challenges. But before we start discussing these solutions, let’s take a look at specific examples of IoT integration.
Examples of IoT integration
The use of the first IoT device dates back to 1982. A Coca-Cola vending machine was connected to the computer in Carnegie Mellon University. Microswitches reported whether the beverages were cold and showed the inventory level. The connected device would be more sophisticated, however, if there was an integration with software that could notify when beverages were not cold and automate refill alerts.
Coca-Cola vending machine, the world’s first IoT device
Thanks to technological innovations, today we can integrate IoT solutions with software as well as with other connected devices. As an example, one of our recent clients, reached out to our team to build an IoT-driven automated power bank station that integrates with a mobile app.
The power bank rental platform functionality
With the help of this automated technology, employees can change their work environment without any human involvement. As the station consists of power banks, called Pico, and the charging base, the key task was to make them best buds, which could communicate with each other without any hiccups.
The power banks and charging base
Also, the IoT platform links with our mobile application that allows users to register on the platform and receive validation from the admin to take a Pico from the station. If the connection with a Pico is lost, the software sends automatic notifications to the administrator and user, asking the latter to come back to the area of service.
Why is IoT integration important?
The real value of connected devices lies in the IoT data, and to use this data, it’s necessary to gather information from different sources, which, as you’ve guessed from the title of our article, can be quite challenging. But we’ll get to it later. Now, you might wonder why we need IoT data integration at all?
Data integration is important for businesses to gain a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in their organization. Thanks to the network of IoT sensors, they collect valuable data related to different business processes, in different forms and in insanely large volumes. Having such insight can help enterprises to set feasible goals and design strategies efficiently and with more certainty.
What are the challenges facing IoT?
- A large number of IoT devices
IoT projects include a wide range of devices, massive amounts of data, and a large number of application programming interfaces (APIs) – all of which can create some IoT challenges at the implementation phase. More specifically, the ever-rising number of IoT devices that continuously collect data from the network edges makes it challenging for you to monitor the data flowing from different sources.
- Incompatibility of connected devices
IoT technologies from different vendors may present both security and incompatibility concerns. Moreover, standardization of data collected from different sources is also quite challenging. The matter is that different IoT devices can be calibrated in a different way, which is why the accuracy of the data gathered by the sensors may also vary. Thus, the analytics that rely on such data is often in question.
- Stream messaging
Gathering and analyzing a stream of data from a wide variety of smart sensors is an important step in IoT projects. Conventional integrations revolve around batched data that makes businesses reconsider their integration strategies.
- A rising number of endpoints
Don’t get us wrong – it’s okay for the number of endpoints to increase at a rapid pace. But, unfortunately, traditional integration platforms are built to support a limited number of endpoints.
- New communication protocols
Some IoT smart sensors utilize new communication protocols. Therefore, businesses require integration platforms that meet the requirements of new IoT protocols.
How to overcome IoT integration challenges
To overcome the aforementioned challenges, you should be able to timely detect them and their implications. More importantly, it’s crucial to design a multi-level solution, spanning the right IoT integration tools, technology, and practices. Let’s explore some of the most effective strategies that facilitate integration of IoT.
Have a well-defined IoT integration strategy
Right after you have your light-bulb moment when you come up with your business idea, you need to think of your IoT integration strategy. To do so, you should realize the project scope, opportunities, challenges, possible solutions, and implications. Preparing for integration challenges from the very beginning will help to avoid data silos, which, in turn, may result in a range of lost opportunities in the future. Setting measurable goals for projects and designing strategies will allow you to implement data integration in the IoT architecture with no hassle.
Creating an integration strategy assists in further steps, like setting communication requirements. Besides, this helps in determining whether edge computing is needed in a specific part of the IoT environment. In such a way, the following approach ensures that irrelevant data doesn’t flood the central data warehouse.
Check communication requirements
You need to understand how devices will interact in your project, and pick the most suitable technology, be it Z-Wave or MQTT. Besides, you need to take into account such factors as the type and number of IoT components and check whether different technologies will be compatible with each other.
The next thing you need to do is to search for the network topology that aligns with the requirements for localized computing, device autonomy, device aggregation, and more. When these areas have been identified, it’s necessary to evaluate whether a bundled connected device meets the requirements or additional solutions are required to build a network.
MQTT communication protocol for smart home devices
Use API for IoT integration
IoT networks mainly consist of connected, software-driven devices that interact with each other. The use of APIs is one of the most effective yet simplest ways to ensure data integration, device communication, and network. The given approach also helps in addressing any issues in the data accuracy, as it flows from the edge to the data centers. It’s recommended to rely on APIs as the key tool for IoT data integration.
Opt for an API-first strategy
You may also consider using an API-first approach. Since IoT projects are cloud-based, they tend to rely mostly on an API-centric strategy. Please note that this shouldn’t be confused with an API-only approach, since APIs alone cannot ensure security of the IoT integration process in big distributed systems.
The API-first strategy refers to an approach to IoT device design that focuses on the API in order to build products that can easily communicate with one another. The strategy helps to create a system of apps and hardware components that are extensible and modular, like Lego blocks. When using this approach, you need to identify the integration requirements for a connected device that can’t be addressed via APIs, and then evaluate whether your IoT system has the in-built capabilities that will suffice.
Build your IoT solution with our help
IoT integration challenges present the biggest barriers to IoT development and adoption. Therefore, you need to be armed, like a ninja, with a range of effective strategies to resolve these challenges. JatApp has IoT teams that excel in addressing integration challenges. We’ve been more than 7 years in the IoT software development business, which allowed us to gain vast experience in making software communicate with different types of connected devices. It’s no wonder that our IoT products are a huge success on the market now, having thousands of active users.
Want to know more about JatApp? Please, check out our portfolio to see some of our past cases.