Top 4 considerations for choosing an IoT platform-enabled solution

The IoT application enablement space has continued to grow into the hottest technology sector of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to MachNation – an IoT industry research firm – worldwide IoT application enablement and device management revenue will be USD1.1 billion in 2016 and will grow to USD83.4 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 62% over the period.

Public and private sector organizations want to efficiently launch robust and secure IoT solutions. In order to accomplish this, many are turning to IoT Platform-Enabled Solution (PES) vendors to ensure a viable and cost-effective IoT solution . A PES is a solution-centric offering optimized to reduce the time to deliver a fully-enabled, end-to-end, vertical IoT solution to customers. A PES vendor relies on a product-plus-services model; an application development lifecycle managed by in-house and partner resources; and either a rapid application builder or template-based framework. PES vendors use a direct or partner-led sales model and engage a core set of systems integrators to create validated, rapid and secure industry- or application-centric IoT solutions for customers.

But not all IoT PES vendors are of equal quality. MachNation has done extensive analysis of IoT PES vendors in its 2016 IoT Platform-Enabled Solutions ScoreCard. Based on that research, public and private sector organizations should base their selection of IoT PES vendors on characteristics.

Characteristic #1: time-to-market

One of the primary reasons that enterprises select an IoT PES vendor is time-to-market – the rapidity with which an enterprise can launch an IoT solution. There are three criteria that enterprises should use when determining the time-to-market approach of an IoT PES.

  1. Rapid application development frameworks. The strongest PES vendors enable private and public sector organizations to build and deploy IoT applications quickly using templates or rapid application development frameworks – a key component of which is a template or configuration-based approach for the application layer.
  1. True cloud deployment options. An IoT PES should provide flexible deployment options on top of a multi-tenant cloud-based SaaS model. MachNation favors cloud deployment options for IoT PESs because they greatly simplify technology infrastructure requirements; facilitate streamlined functionality and security updates; and address key scalability, fault-tolerance and reliability requirements of IoT solutions.
  1. In-house services team. Enterprises should ensure that an IoT PES has a strong in-house services team. This team will help the enterprise during pre-implementation, implementation and support phases of the IoT project. The in-house services team will provide a series of business and technology approaches to optimize the delivery of the IoT solution .

Characteristic #2: domain expertise and insight

Public and private sector organizations work with an IoT PES because of its deep domain expertise and insight within key industry and application areas. IoT PES engineering and product teams take input from subject-matter experts that understand the operational side of a customer’s business and can determine the areas where IoT is most impactful . PES vendors should combine industry experience and domain knowledge with a creative vision for what is next in IoT and a clear plan on how their solutions – and their chosen partners’ solutions – will enable rather than follow changes in their industries of specialization. Finally, the best PESs will combine industry insight and customer input to produce real-world solutions rather than proofs of concept. PES vendors should demonstrate the quality of their solutions by showcasing the actual field-based deployments of their solutions. The PES should have a strong project management team and have experience with systems integrators (SIs) for projects requiring more extensive implementation and operations services.

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Combining industry experience and domain knowledge with a creative vision for what is next in IoT: One of the characteristics an IoT PES vendor should bring.

Characteristic #3: sophistication of solution management

Public and private sector organizations should select an IoT PES solution that has both exemplary platform and device management features. These features empower the IoT PES vendor’s staff and IT/OT staff within the enterprise to efficiently and effectively configure and reconfigure platform components.

  1. Platform management. Platform management features should include audit and logging capabilities and device lifecycle management capabilities that provide IT and OT staff with a trail of events triggered by devices, workflows or end-users. The platform should provide a privileged user with a detailed history so that diagnosis and troubleshooting can take place.
  1. Device management. IoT PES vendors should also provide IoT device management capabilities. These features should allow operations teams to provision, monitor, update and deprovision IoT devices on a per-device basis and in aggregate. Public and private sector organizations must also ensure that their chosen IoT PES can provide device updating over-the-air (OTA). An IT or OT user of an IoT solution needs to be able to send updates to IoT devices to patch security exploits and deliver bug fixes and new features.

Characteristic #4: comprehensiveness of overall solution

Public and private sector organizations should select a comprehensive IoT PES solution. One of the great benefits of using an IoT PES is that the solution is fairly complete and eliminates the need to contract with an extensive set of IoT vendors. Enterprises should look for an IoT PES that has a strong end-to-end story; a clean, consistent and modern user-interface (UI); and a cohesive set of offerings that effectively integrate different components. An IoT PES typically offers visually-appealing functionality for data collection, data processing, alerting, notifications, device management, dashboards and analytics. Some PESs also offer application development frameworks for both web and mobile. Despite a long list of interdependent and interconnected components creating an end-to-end story, public and private sector organizations should choose an IoT PES that links these components in a clear and logical fashion.

Conclusion

Public and private sector organizations looking to quickly and safely deploy IoT solutions must choose the best IoT PES vendors . Organizations should find those vendors that have a rapid time-to-market model; heightened domain expertise and insight; sophisticated solution management tools; and a comprehensive overall solution. These IoT PES vendors will be able to deliver a quality technology solution and the ongoing support needed for a successful IoT implementation.

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About the author

Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton is a co-founder and President at MachNation, the leading insight services firm researching Internet of Things (IoT) middleware and platforms. His primary areas of expertise include competitive positioning, marketing media development, cloud services, small and medium businesses and sales channels. Steve serves on Cisco’s IoT World Forum Steering Committee where he is co-chairperson of the Service Provide working group. Steve has 23 years’ experience in technology and communications marketing. Prior to founding MachNation, he built and ran the IoT/M2M and Enterprise practice areas at Analysys Mason. He has also held senior positions at Yankee Group, Lucent Technologies, TDS (Telephone and Data Systems) and Cambridge Strategic Management Group. Steve is a frequent speaker at industry and client events, and publishes articles and blogs in several respected trade journals. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Steve is a guest author for the Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.