IoT Blog
IoT Blog

Four Reasons to Think Twice About Building Your IoT Solution Alone

by Tim Hennen, Director of Sales

A few years back I lived in a small home in Southern California with a typical small lot. I always took care of my property with a sense of pride, and I thought I could do it cheaper and better myself.

To greener pastures I went, across the United States to Raleigh, North Carolina. My family doubled, home tripled and my yard quadrupled. The American Dream. I was now faced with a new situation. My yard was no longer going to be such an easy task, and my young family demanded more time. Plus paying for maintenance was going to be four times more expensive—4x the lot size, 4x the cost. Makes sense, I guess.

I put my business cap on and looked at the situation from an investment standpoint. I would need a new mower—I was using a push-reel lawnmower in California—a new blower and extra tools. I compared the CAPEX to what my OPEX would be if I paid someone else to do it. The initial investment would pay for itself after one year! What a great deal, I thought.

I soon learned how wrong I was.

What does this have to do with technology and IoT, you ask? The reason I made the wrong choice with my landscaping was because I’d failed to consider four key factors during my initial analysis. The same four factors apply in the IoT world.

  1. Time – I severely underestimated the time I would spend working on my yard. It wasn’t just mowing and edging I had to worry about. I had to fertilize, pull weeds, maintain my equipment, etc. I travel a lot for work so free time with my family is at a premium.
  2. Competence – I’m in technology sales, not running a landscaping business. But all of a sudden I needed to become an expert in seasonal grass, irrigation, weed control, equipment maintenance… you get the point. I was expanding my knowledge base in an area that provided little value to the rest of my life. But to keep my yard alive I had to do this. The maintenance never ends. My tool shed gets bigger. My costs keep growing.
  3. Risk – I messed up my first year. I didn’t turn the water on in time (I though Raleigh rained enough) and my grass died and weeds took over. It cost a small fortune to fix this mistake and my yard never really recovered. This turned my initial analysis upside down, as I certainly never anticipated anything like this. But was that really unexpected? Like I said, I’m in technology sales, not landscaping.
  4. ROI and TCO – Obviously I did not consider enough factors when making my decision. I don’t think I’ll ever see that ROI, because in a few years I’ll have to replace my mower again, keep buying new tools etc. Plus I pay retail for all of my fertilizer so it’s almost a wash when considering what I would pay someone to do it when they are buying wholesale. Now when I calculate all of the costs I did not anticipate, the four times cost from my last house seems like a deal. My TCO doing it myself is most certainly higher and that does not include reducing my most precious resource, time.
In my job I come across a lot of organizations that are either building IoT solutions or have already built one.

When I talk to those building a new solution, they sound a lot like I did when I first moved. While the front end application is really their bread and butter, the end-to-end solution doesn’t seem like it’s that hard to tackle. Surely they are smart enough to figure it out. And, when they look at the monthly charges of a PaaS or SaaS solution, they can surely save money if they build it themselves. Yes, the CAPEX will be higher, but long term they will get their money back.

When I talk to those who have done it before, nine times out of 10 I hear the story of where I am today. They didn’t consider the four key factors: time, technical competence, risk and ROI/TCO. Sure they have a solution that works, but it has taken years—and TIME was their most precious resource too. On top of that, they have not really seen the savings due to their now bloated backend staff that keeps growing, and they have to continually invest in next generations of their platform.

Sierra Wireless can help you with your IoT landscaping. Our device to cloud solution includes a comprehensive suite of tools and resources to accelerate your IoT development, reduce risk, lower your TCO, and let you focus on what matters: building your business.

Check us out at or watch this video to see what we are doing today.