Look Beyond IoT Development Costs and Consider Maintenance




Don’t fixate on IoT development costs. To be sustainable, you’ll also need a thorough understanding of your IoT’s maintenance costs.

As IoT products and services become more prevalent, businesses are diving into the world headfirst. However, in our experience working with IoT teams, we have noticed a common problem. Many teams focus solely on the development side of IoT and essentially ignore the maintenance costs associated with IoT. Unfortunately, this maintenance will determine the sustainability of IoT in your business.

Before you delve into developing your own IoT platform, it’s important to understand all your potential costs--both the ones you’ll incur upfront and the ones you’ll need for upkeep.

IoT Development Costs

While you probably won’t start from scratch, we’re going to cover just about everything you need to consider.

Generally speaking, we have noticed two trends in how our clients approach IoT Development.

  1. “Let’s build it as quickly as possible so we can get it to market! Then we can iterate.”
  2. “Let’s take our time and build this so we don’t incur too much risk.”

These are both viable options. However, there are no hard and fast rules in IoT. No matter which method you use to build your IoT product, here are the costs to consider.

  • Embedded Costs

    • Hardware
    • Board design
    • MCU code
  • Network Costs

    • Hits to API
    • ML & analytics
    • Cellular/wifi data transfer
    • Consumer vs. industrial can very network costs greatly
  • Infrastructure Costs

    • Sending/saving data to a database
    • General scaling costs
  • App Costs

    • Design
    • Product management
    • Development

IoT Maintenance Costs to Consider

Your IoT’s maintenance costs will be dependent on your architecture. If you plan out your architecture well, there shouldn’t be any huge surprises. Similarly, many of these costs will scale with the number of users you have.

  • Hardware replacement
  • Electricity (if you’re powering thousands of sensors, this could be massive)
  • Growing userbase - how does this affect your network and hardware costs?
  • Database - how often does it write, read, store
  • Cloud computing (analytics)
  • IoT Proprietary Frameworks (mDash, etc.)
  • Ongoing application development costs (fixing bugs, creating new features)
  • Security updates for both hardware and application (you’ll need OTA updates)
  • Network fees (satellite, cellular provider)
  • Service fees (servicing sensors, MCUs, gateways)
  • Customer service (for consumer products)

Reducing IoT Expenses

It’s important to know what you’re paying for, why you’re paying for it, and whether it can be lowered by software or architecture optimization.

Here are some of the most common areas we see waste.

  • MCU/chip selection - There are different varieties of chips within the same family so it’s important to understand your current and future needs through and through.
  • Power optimization - This is mostly relevant if you run hundreds of sensors in your factory and also pay the power bill. Find ways to optimize power/electricity by using low-power MCUs
  • Understanding your entire IoT ecosystem - Sometimes even your most senior architects don’t necessarily know the specifics of IoT. You might need someone else with true IoT experience.
  • Scaling costs - As you grow, there will be cost spikes that will force you to rethink your architecture.

ROI of IoT is extremely difficult to calculate. With so many development and maintenance costs and intangible benefits, it’s sometimes difficult for leaders to prove a positive ROI on a product.

If you need assistance, the Devetry team can help! We analyze costs vs revenue vs. industry benchmarks to understand areas of opportunity. We can help you identify opportunities for your IoT infrastructure or custom software. Contact us today to get the conversation started!