Our 1000-Beacon Deployment Learnings: Deployments are Changing

As the beacon industry grows, so will deployment size. We need to talk about the realities of building infrastructures for IoT–for the good of deployers and customers.
About to deploy your beacons? Looking for best practices?
By the Deployment Team
We’ve been deploying beacons for over three years now. has been designing, manufacturing, and installing hardware all over the world, and we thought we had the hang of it. We were wrong; well, we weren’t wrong—we just aren’t finished yet. There are huge changes happening in the industry and IoT in general. The fundamental forces behind successful deployments and implementations are changing.
While beacon technology and infrastructures can scale with relative ease, very large deployments will require huge changes in approach. In short, the larger the project, the larger the delicate balance between the needs of the infrastructure and the existing processes within the company. Large, established companies can be notoriously slow on the uptake of new, edgy tech. With all their spinning wheels and carefully molded departments, adding a new layer of technology can be (understandably) the last thing they want to do. They may be excited to try IoT solutions, but it will take several iterations and back-and-forth to move ahead. This will prove increasingly difficult as the IoT spreads into different verticals.
To this end, it is crucial that both deployment teams and their customers prepare for the many layers that must be addressed in a beacon deployment long before reaching the deploying grounds.
Planning a beacon deployment? Make sure to check out this handy checklist

  • Who are the stakeholders involved and what are their roles and responsibilities in the project?
  • How to plan beacon placements so that they not only support the (sometimes multiple) use cases but are also approved by someone who cares for the aesthetics of the venue?
  • How do departments other than IT impact your deployment plans?
  • Who is the final decision maker?
  • Who will handle fleet maintenance, and how can you prepare these people for the task?

These are just a few of the questions we’ll have to become comfortable with in the coming years. While beacon deployments will happen whether or not these questions are answered, full clarity and oversight will make the customers happier, more comfortable, and lead to an overall more succeslsful project.

Beacon technology is still at an in-between point in its adoption.

Like most hot, developing technologies: businesses want them. Badly.
Also like most hot, developing technologies: most businesses don’t fully understand them.
It will take time for companies and their IT departments to understand IoT and Radio- technologies, like Bluetooth, with all its gimmicks, benefits and limitations. Until then, it’s fully up to providers and deployers to be extra diligent when providing information. It’s up to us to focus on education and helping companies take each baby step toward connected infrastructure. In short, there must be a starting point for all deployments where hardware manufacturers, deployers, solution providers, stakeholders, and managers recognize that they’re building this system from the ground up. The collaborations in which parties are the most active—asking questions, getting details in writing—will be the ones that find success.

Deployment is a very physical process with very real, physical limitations.

Do you have access to all the places you need to deploy? It sounds obvious, but the reality is that large companies will have large barriers in place to keep people from wandering around—people like you. It’s easy to forget about the realities of deployment as the infrastructure itself represents something so easy, futuristic, and digital. We’re digitalizing the physical world, doing great, big idea things, but that does not mean we can forget about dealing with security personnel, restricted areas, or poorly lit spaces.

Larger deployments make timing more difficult.

When you have a few dozen or even a few hundred beacons, it’s hard work. However, several hundred or thousands of beacons is entirely different. If your deployment is not to overlap with the company’s opening or business hours, the deployment team will be very limited in terms of times they can deploy. For many scenarios, this means not just late or overnight work but heavy duty work in pitch black. Furthermore, very large infrastructures will likely cover very large spaces. This means very large distances to be traversed and tackled. Take the planning seriously, and secure the right tools to make moving in large spaces at all hours of the night manageable.

Lots of moving parts means paying close attention to your customer.

Deployment isn’t just about getting beacons in place. It’s about making sure the customer feels at ease and happy with the project. In order for this new era of very large beacon infrastructures to take off, the industry is going to have to prepare for much more than just beacons. This is an integral part of crossing the chasm into a place where everyone has the chance to use proximity technology on a regular basis. Today’s deployments can’t be about the hustle. In effect, this shift in deployment size represents what is happening to the industry at large. It means stepping up from our grass roots in the startup circle, and it means driving a very reliable and recognizable industry around the world.
A large infrastructure, the kind that will last into the future and prove robust and multifaceted, will not be built in a day. All parties need to expect this. That is the only way for everyone to emerge successful. Happy deploying!

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