The IoT Platform Jigsaw – Buy or Build? (Part 2/4)
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In this instalment we explore how commercially available platforms, including M2M platforms, might be an option for you.

Once Upon a Time – A Small Group of M2M Platforms

M2M Service Providers have been using the term M2M Platform for years with their enterprise customers. The main functionality of these carrier-grade platforms was to manage connectivity through a secure, fast and reliable private network via dedicated hubs directly into each of the major network partners.  They allowed control of multiple network SIM estates, management of SIMs and devices and finally management of their billing administration in line with their own systems and procedures.

Most M2M Service Providers developed in-house M2M platforms but also in parallel they acquired  M2M platforms from vendors such as Cisco Jasper Control Center, Ericsson Device Connection Paltform (DCP) , Cumulocity, and Telenor Connexion , among others.

With the hype around IoT, M2M Service Providers become more interested in offering their enterprise customers an IoT application development environment that can reduce time, cost, and complexity of deployment of solutions, that can optimize their business processes and help them deliver better and faster services.  An early example was Etisalat leveraging ThingWorx IoT Development Platform, announced in 2015.

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 a COTS 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

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With more than 20 years’ worth of international experience in the ICT sector, Francisco joins Ecosystm as Principal Advisor. He brings his expert insights to support clients in developing strategies for adopting new and emerging technologies and adapting their operations for digital transformation. Widely considered a technology visionary, Francisco took the leap into advisory in 2014 to launch his own IoT and AI consultancy, OIES Consulting. He is passionate about ensuring that the connected society improves people’s lives and is regularly invited to speak at industry events on the topic. Prior to this, Francisco served in senior management and executive roles for a number of the world’s best known B2B technology brands, including Vodafone, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, SAP and Oracle. Most recently, Francisco was EMEA Industry Lead, Communications & Media for Microsoft, where he was charged with driving revenue growth and increasing market share in the vertical. Francisco has also acted as a business mentor to several IoT startups. Francisco holds two Masters in Telecoms Systems & Networks, and Marketing & Finance. He is a science fiction movie and TV series enthusiast and supporter of Real Madrid. Francisco loves travelling, playing tennis and having good conversations.


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