~ Third post of a three part series.
In our first post, we focussed on introducing IoT, the reasons for its prevalence and its application across industries. In the second post, we looked at the new technology requirements and architectures required for IoT solutions. In this post, we shall look at the IoT Platforms in depth and how to choose the right platform to build an IoT Solution.
McKinsey estimates that “40 percent of the total value that can be unlocked with the Internet of Things requires different IoT systems to work together”. In its most simple form, an IoT platform is just about enabling connectivity between objects. In a more sophisticated form, the platform consists of a variety of important building blocks such as the following -
1. CONNECTIVITY & NORMALIZATION: Every IoT platform starts with a connectivity layer. It has the function of bringing different protocols and different data formats into one “software” interface. This is necessary in order to ensure all devices can be interacted with and data is read correctly.
2. DEVICE MANAGEMENT: The device management module of an IoT platform ensures the connected objects are working properly and its software and applications are updated and running.
3. DATABASE: Data storage is a central piece in an IoT platform. The management of device data brings the requirements for databases to a new level. An IoT platform therefore usually comes with a cloud based database solution that is distributed across different sensor nodes.
4. PROCESSING & ACTION MANAGEMENT: The data that is captured in the connectivity & normalization module and the data which is stored in the database gets brought to life in this part of the IoT platform. A rule-based event-action-trigger allows performance of “smart” actions based on specific sensor data.
5. ANALYTICS: Many IoT use cases go beyond action-management and require complex analytics to get the most out of the IoT data-stream.
6. DATA VISUALIZATION: Visualization comes in the form of line-, stacked-, or pie charts, 2D- or even 3D-models. The visualization dashboard that is available to the manager of the IoT platform is often also included in the prototyping tools that an advanced IoT platform provides.
7. ADDITIONAL TOOLS: Advanced IoT platforms often offer an additional set of tools for the developer and the manager of the IoT solution.
8. EXTERNAL INTERFACES: IoT enabled businesses are rarely built standalone and on a green field. In established companies it is crucial that the Internet of Things integrates with existing ERP systems, management tools, manufacturing execution systems and the rest of the wider IT-ecosystem.
We estimate that there are more than three hundred IoT platforms today and the number is growing almost every week However, not every platform is the same. There are three major lenses to differentiate IoT platforms: The technological depth, the segment-focus and the implementation/customization approach.
1. Technological Depth: Developing a deeply integrated IoT platform with all of the mentioned modules and integration into a number of IoT standards requires several years of focused work. Therefore different levels of technology depth for IoT platforms exist.
2. The Segment Focus: The retailer has fundamentally different requirements than for a company seeking to manage sensor data from industrial machinery. Major differences include different device and protocol support, different kind of required analytics and visualization, integration into different external interfaces, as well as a different kind of security infrastructure. Therefore, some IoT platform companies are focusing on specific end-user segments such as Smart Home or Smart City while only very few offer the full bandwidth from the B2C maker scene to industrial settings.
3. Integration approach: The third major differentiator of IoT platforms is the integration approach of the IoT platform company. Some platforms come as they are while others offer extensive implementation support and the option to white-label the platform.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLATFORM TO BUILD AT IOT SOLUTION
The IoT platform is a central element for anyone deciding to build an IoT enabled solution. We can either buy the existing one or make it. When using an existing IoT platform there are many IoT platforms out there. It is a daunting task to select the right one. While choosing the right IoT platform, one can consider the following assessment points to help in the selection of an IoT platform with the goal to make the IoT solution as successful as possible.
The IoT will be the subject of endless analysis and hype as its influence expands. But to succeed, a methodical approach that breaks down what is necessary, desirable, and superfluous can streamline the approach and make the structure of the ideal platform easier to see. We need secure, scalable, robust, easy-to-integrate IoT platforms. As with any technology decision, it is imperative to have a full understanding of business and technical constraints and requirements and feed those into your evaluation of IoT providers.
Hope our three part series on IoT has given you a deeper understanding on the subject matter. For those who are interested in knowing more about our IoT expertise and IoT Solution, kindly contact email@example.com
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