Which brings me to a mobile network operator (MNOs) – Can they avoid the temptation to develop their own IoT management and application platforms? The complexity of IoT value-added service (VAS) development and deployment demands a continuing operational and commercial effort.
My recommendation: MNOs should instead consider partnering with well-established technology vendors in order to accelerate time to market and create customer value through innovation.
Buy or Build an IoT Platform – Making the Right Decision
Technology companies have spent years adapting their sales pitch to convince their customers or potential customers of the advantages of buying commercial products or ultimately IaaS, PaaS or SaaS platforms. On the other hand, many companies across industries see a risk that their business will depend on suppliers and fear being captives of these technology providers. Their management team and tech leaders have found enough arguments to develop their solutions from scratch.
The eternal dilemma, whether to build from scratch or buy a commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) IoT Platform to support the needs of the enterprise will continue for a while. Here’s what you need to know about both approaches before making this critical project decision.
Step 1: Validate the need for an IoT platform. Focus on validating that a business need exists prior to deciding and estimate the return on investment (ROI) or added value.
Step 2: Identify core business requirements – Involve the right business people. This will determine the success of the process.
Step 3: Identify architectural requirements – It is extremely important to identify any architectural requirements and follow the status of the confusing IoT standards world, before determining if a COTS or custom solution is the best choice.
Step 4: Examine existing IoT Platforms – At this point, a business need has been pinpointed, ROI has been estimated, and both core business and architectural restrictions have been identified. Now, you should take a good look at existing IoT vendors (a short list of IoT platforms, to be more concrete).
Step 5: Evaluate your in-house skills to support a custom IoT platform – It takes many skills to design and deploy a successful IoT platform that is both scalable and extensible.
Step 6: Explore if aCOTS IoT platform fits your need – If your organization does not include a development group comprising personnel experienced in designing IoT solutions to support your enterprise-wide business solutions, a COTS IoT platform will probably provide the best long-term ROI.
More considerations for choosing an IoT platform coming up in the next
When I published “It’s an IoT Platform, stupid!” in 2015 , I did not think that it would be one of my most visited and shared articles. I am proud that just in LinkedIn, this article has received more than 8,000 visits. That´s why I have chosen an update of that article to initiate my collaboration with Ecosystm.
When in late 2013, I decided to relaunch my company OIES Consulting with a focus this time on Advisory services for Internet of Things (IoT), I thought the selection of IoT platforms would be one of the most useful services that we would offer and certainly one that would bring more benefits to the clients wishing to accelerate the adoption of IoT.
At that time, I had identified about 60 IoT platform vendors and despite guidance from research firms, the confusion was brutal. Today it is worse – there are more than 600 platform vendors and the expected market consolidation still has not arrive. Like other analysts and bloggers, I tried to maintain, classify and publish a list of IoT platform vendors but it looks like an impossible task. However, it is a matter of 2-3 more years.
You must agree with me that the IoT platform market needs a quick and urgent consolidation. Hopefully, in the magical year of 2022, we will be talking about no more than 50 vendors at the most.
The Confusing Market of IoT Platforms
But first things first. How to define an IoT platform? How to differentiate between a Connected Device Platform (CDP) and an Application Enablement Platform (AEP) and an IoT Middleware and a Service Enablement Services (SES) platforms?
“Not All IoT Platforms are Created Equal”, it has been said before, and we must understand that the current generation of IoT platforms probably represent the first iteration in this space. But there are marked differences between the different types of platforms. As an organization looking to embrace an IoT platform, this initial diversity can result very confusing. Sean Lorenz from Xively rightly said that the “IoT Platform” is such an overloaded term that its meaning has been lost. Chipset manufacturers, sensor manufacturers, software vendors, consortia and system integrators all have their own definitions.
We find out there with a large number of companies that offer us IoT platforms in the cloud or on premises; for horizontal or vertical implementations; for embedded software development or industrial applications development; with data capture and real-time analytics capabilities; with devices and protocols management capabilities; with connectivity to any network; for developing applications for smart homes, for smart cities, for connected vehicles, for wearables….. the list continues! Tech buyers are understandably confused in their choice of IoT platform. The global Ecosystm IoT Study reveals this confusion.
In such circumstances it is preferable to avoid arguments about which is an IoT platform and how we categorize them. My recommendation here is to ask for help from specialized IoT consultants. They will be able to give you specific guidance based on present and future business needs and can help in the IoT platform selection.
Over my next few blogs I will attempt to guide you through the significance of the different kinds of platforms. It will surely help you in your IoT platform choice, keeping the needs and capabilities of your business in mind.