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Top Questions to Ask When Looking for an IoT Platform

August 16, 2016

You and your colleagues are sold on the Internet of Things (IoT). At this point, you are looking to start integrating smart solutions (like IP-enabled cameras and smart sensors) into your business to boost productivity and drive profits.

Now ... where should you start?

The first thing you’ll want to consider—and this is very important—is how you will manage your connected endpoints as they proliferate across your enterprise. Keep in mind that a typical IoT ecosystem will have many different brands, protocols and data sources and can be very overwhelming from a managerial perspective. It’s for this reason why many businesses are now choosing to streamline the IoT management process with the help of an IoT platform, i.e., a cloud-based hub that will grant complete visibility into and control over your entire connected environment.

You won’t have any trouble finding competitive platforms to assess, as the market for IoT platforms is booming. It will continue growing—adding various features and support functions along the way—at a compound annual growth rate of 33 percent from 2015 to 2021, when it will produce an annual revenue of $1.6 billion.

That being said, selecting the right platform for your business is crucial for a successful IoT deployment. Here are some questions to ask during your search:

Is it scalable and flexible? It’s important to partner with an IoT platform provider that can adapt to changes as they occur in your environment. This will allow for continued support as your business model evolves. Remember that an IoT platform should never add complexity to your operation. Rather, it should ease the migration process as you add new features, tools and capabilities without requiring an infrastructure reconfiguration. As your ecosystem grows, a best-in-class platform will be able to scale and smoothly handle vast amounts of devices and data streams.

How compatible is it? You shouldn’t have any trouble integrating the platform into your backend system. Be wary of platforms that only work with proprietary technologies or ecosystems. Besides enabling interoperability between devices, the platform should also enable communication between applications and external systems. For this to happen, program languages and code sets need to be compatible as do the platforms you are using. You may want to make use of application program interfaces (API), which will allow you to interact and share data with other firms.

Is there a partnership track? To be successful in the IoT, an enterprise must build a strong and extensive partner ecosystem. Partners provide crucial support for tasks required during the product and channel development process, as well as add value to applications and services. Companies with strong and extensive partnerships can leverage each other’s resources, ultimately creating greater value in IoT markets.

What kind of security features does it offer? Your enterprise should take adequate steps to develop strong security measures and procedures. Each connected endpoint that you add is a direct gateway into your network that could be exploited by an unauthorized intruder. Make sure that the IoT platform you choose provides multiple security safeguards, including user authentication technologies and the ability to set firm access controls. The platform should also provide end-to-end encryption to protect data as it flows across the network.

Can it turn data into actionable insight? The real value in collecting data lies in the insights that can be derived from it. Ultra-fast data rates and low latency connectivity have led to drastic improvements in data processing and querying. Your IoT platform should therefore be able to mine data and provide real-time feedback so that you can use it to drive action (instead of letting it sit in a backend server).