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As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to expand in size and influence, many businesses are seeking to harness its potential to innovate and boost revenue. To do so requires connecting all these different types of devices, systems, and more through one unified platform.
Indeed, IoT platforms represent a growing market, one which is expected to reach US$1.6-billion by the beginning of the next decade. Despite the growth of the Internet of Things and the need to use an IoT platform, many organizations are not responding to the trend.
IoT platforms are often overlooked. Perhaps it comes from a general misunderstanding of the technology, or perhaps it’s a result of thinking the IoT doesn’t really apply to them. Or maybe it’s a case of being overwhelmed by the hundreds of different IoT platforms now available. In any case, you should definitely be vetting IoT platforms now, since in all likelihood your competition is doing it already.
IoT platforms are in a sense the next evolution of enterprise software platforms. What began with the revolutionary connectivity of the internet, followed by the cloud and mobile devices, IoT platforms bring devices, infrastructure, networks, flash storage, and more together in ways that simply weren’t possible years earlier.
IoT platforms are needed in order to scale IoT applications and services. With an IoT platform, your organization won’t be able to fully utilize the Internet of Things, and considering the potential of the IoT, that would be putting your business at a significant disadvantage for many years to come.
Vetting the large variety of IoT platforms out there becomes a noticeable challenge, in part due to the fact that it’s such a new market. Each IoT platform vendors is attempting to carve out its own little space and define exactly what an IoT platform is.
Despite the growth of the Internet of Things and the need to use an IoT platform, many organizations are not responding to the trend
That means things are far from set in stone, so comparing one IoT platform to another is a bit like comparing a bicycle to a skateboard — both are forms of transportation but operate in very different ways and can appeal to different people. In this new market, no single definition can properly encompass every type of IoT platform out right now, other than the general goal of unifying IoT devices and infrastructure.
With that said, there are still a number of ways to vet IoT platforms, starting with the components that are most commonly found in them. There are normally eight components you can take a closer look at, including the database, external interfaces, connectivity and normalization, device management, analytics (including machine learning), and additional tools like app prototyping.
These architectural components help dictate how best an IoT platform is used and where it fits into an organization’s IoT strategy as a whole. Your business, for example, might take extra interest in the data visualization component if there is a pressing need to form a graphical depiction of the data collected from IoT sensors.
Beyond the components that make up an IoT platform, you’ll also want to consider the companies behind the creation of these platforms. There are roughly four categories of IoT platform organizations. The first is the startups — those companies that got an early start with their innovative platforms. The second category belongs to the PaaS providers, those cloud providers that extended their existing platform services to include IoT platforms.
Industrial solution providers are part of the third group, which includes industry experts that provide platform solutions specifically tailored to their area of expertise. The fourth category is SOA platform vendors, those with ESB, EAI, and iPaaS platforms that are trying to expand their offerings into the Internet of Things.
Knowing who is behind which platform can help a great deal in the vetting process. Your questions and concerns will be different when comparing a platforms from a startup versus an established cloud provider.
Choosing an IoT platform can have lasting ramifications for your company, so vetting one properly is of great importance. Even if you are unsure about how to use one of even if you should use one, your competition has likely already begun the process. To remain competitive now and in the future, you’ll want to investigate which IoT platform is the best fit for you and your organization.