The term "asset management" means different things to different people. Let's explore the term, in the context of connected devices.
Where is it?
At it's simplest level, asset management answers questions like:
- "What have I deployed?"
- "Where is it?"
- "Which customer has it?"
These are rather obvious questions, and it might seem surprising that the answers are not at everyone's fingertips. But when a company experiences rapid growth, it is easy for processes which previously worked well (e.g. filling-out a spreadsheet when a new device is added) to fall apart, as the velocity and team size grows. It is also a good idea to enforce some kind of a schema, i.e. for every device deployed, we need to records at least X, Y & Z (e.g. location, address, customer), to avoid embarrassing situations where you know you have shipped something but you've lost track of where it ended-up. Even the best installation team won't always be able to make reality match the plan.
Is it working?
Once we have an accurate picture of what we've actually deployed, the next question is usually "is it working?". Not much point, if it's not. This question is a little more subtle because it requires a definition of "working", which can sometimes be complex, in the face of real-world issues such as poor connectivity.
We also need to understand the lifecycle of the device, answering questions like:
- Has it gone live? Has it been retired? We don't want to count as performance strike for the "working" group, if it's not even supposed to be working
- Does it have a fault? Is there a ticket, what is the next step in resolution?
Here perhaps we are starting to stray into the realm of Service Monitoring/Management, rather than pure Asset Management - but the point is that connected assets are never entirely static.
Filtering, Grouping, Mapping
As well as answering questions about individual devices, as our estate grows we'll increasingly need to answer questions about cohorts of devices, using powerful features like:
- Filtering: Only show me those devices owned by Customer C, or in state S, or running software version V
- Grouping: When calculating metrics such as uptime or availability, group them by e.g. customer, or site
- Mapping: Show all this not just on lists, but also on live maps, coloured according to state, and clustered to give at-a-glance view on density and problems which are location-specific (e.g. power or comms outages).
Asset management for restricted domains
For a few specific use-cases, you may need an Asset Management system which comes ready-populated with a large "schema" for your vertical market. One example is BIM - Building Information Modelling. An asset management system which understands BIM comes with built-in understanding of hundreds of concepts like "door", "corridor", "exit" and their hierarchical and functional relationship to each other, so it can add value by checking that your data input is valid, and providing e.g. 3D visualisation of spaces.
This is outside of the scope of a general-purpose connected-device Asset Management tool such as DevicePilot - but a great complement to it, because it can't do all the other things DevicePilot can do (and might struggle to support new types of "thing" outside of its understanding - e.g. when your EV charging business suddenly wants to handle parking sensors, too).
DevicePilot is a great fit for the Asset Management of connected devices. If you require very domain-specific schema understanding, you might also want to complement it with a tool which does that.