So many IoT vendors, so little time

Alarm Clock

One of the biggest challenges facing enterprise IT decision makers when it comes to adopting new technologies is making sense of the market as well as their organization’s needs.

In the early days of mobile, enterprises had to figure out whether to support iPhones, Androids, or both. They also had to decide between BYOD and enterprise-provided mobile devices. And when enterprise mobility management became a “thing,” they had to figure out which vendor was the best match for them.

More recently, enterprises went through a similar process with cloud computing. Do we go private or public? On premises or remote? How do vendor SLAs and pricing models compare? There’s a lot to decide! (Fortunately, all that’s at stake is the future of the enterprise.)

Now enterprise IT leaders get to do it all over again with the Internet of Things (IoT). What are our IoT strategies and goals? How will we implement and support IoT? And how do we choose the right IoT platform and partner?

You can spend a lot of time researching the IoT market online, but one good resource to give you a quick lay of the land comes from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which recently published an insightful article titled, “Who Will Win the IoT Platform Wars?”

Despite the title, the article focuses less on the market battle and more on offering enterprise decision-makers some advice on choosing the right IoT platform vendor. And there are more than 400 IoT platforms to choose from, with nearly one-quarter (22%) offering enterprise software and services.

Yet BCG says there’s less than meets the eye here. “Despite the abundance of IoT platform vendors, most offer only partial solutions,” BCG says. “In our view, partial solutions shouldn’t be called IoT platforms at all.”

That still leaves about 50 IoT platform vendors left, the analysts say; not exactly a short list of candidates. And while “it might seem prudent for buyers to wait until one or two platforms emerge as winners,” BCG writes, “that approach poses its own inherent risks.”

Assuming you don’t want to take a chance by staying on the sidelines until the market leaders emerge, you need a framework with which to assess a large number of vendors. The folks at BCG (specifically, analysts Akash Bhatia, Zia Yusuf, David Ritter, and Nicolas Hunke) delve far more deeply into this than I can here (so you should read their entire article), but here a few key bullet points:

Select a fully capable platform. This means a platform that provides three IoT capabilities: application enablement, data aggregation and storage, and connectivity management.

Make sure the platform matches developer skills. If the platform relies on a programming language that is foreign to your developers, that’s a bad match.

Strive for easy implementation. This generally means an open framework, which offers modular design and easy APIs.

Match the platform business model to your needs. If money is tight and you’re just dipping your toe into the IoT waters, then a vendor that offers its platform for free and charges on a subscription or consumption basis for apps and services would be a good option to pursue.

Remember, all that’s at stake is the future of your enterprise.

RELATED LINKS

I is for IoT

Defensive strategies for protecting IoT

Connectivity is an overlooked barrier to IoT

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