What is an Internet of Things (IoT) Platform?
The global market for Internet of Things technology—which consists of connected devices, services and software—reached 130 billion in 2018 and is projected to more than double by 2023.
This growing network of data-exchanging devices is powered by IoT Platforms. But there is still confusion around exactly what IoT platforms are and what makes them so critical to technological advancements in today’s hyper-connected world.
Below, we’ll share a simple explanation of what IoT platforms are and why businesses use them. Finally, we’ll explore some key considerations to keep in mind when selecting the right platform for your business’ IoT needs.
The Basics of an IoT Platform
Before diving into what an IoT platform is, it’s important to first fully understand what an Internet of Things (IoT) is. In the simplest sense, IoT consists of a connected network of devices (think smart watches, vacuums, home lighting systems, security systems, and even alarm clocks). IoT enables devices to connect and exchange data, and users are able to interact with and control these connected devices via web or mobile applications. There are virtually no limits to the number of connected devices or their impact in making life easier for users.
An IoT platform is what actually facilitates the communication between these connected physical items. It is the overall support application that connects all corresponding devices and data to the cloud.
IoT platforms are designed to integrate with any device or app, which helps to simplify communication, device management, and data flow—ultimately enabling the function of all associated device applications. These platforms allow for seamless integration with any type of connected device and even serve an important function in authentication and security for users. Finally, IoT platforms create an easy, single source of information when if comes to gathering, visualizing, and analyzing data.
Examples of IoT platforms include:
Amazon (AWS IoT)
IBM (Watson IoT Platform)
Google Cloud (Google)
When Should Your Business Consider an IoT Platform?
IoT platforms exist to make it easier for businesses to overcome the technical challenges of IoT implementation.
Because of the range and complexity of various technical ecosystems, rarely do business have all of the pieces in place for a seamless and successful implementation. Rather than configuring and building (or rebuilding, in many cases), necessary software components in-house, many companies and product teams opt for IoT platform, which bridges that gap.
Hiring software developers who are IoT experts, getting them up to speed on in-house systems, and then waiting for them to build the necessary infrastructure in-house is both expensive and incredibly time consuming. With an IoT platform, businesses can get an enterprise IoT app up and running more efficiently with fewer overhead costs.
Important IoT Platform Considerations
Some may argue the long versus short term benefits of an outside IoT platform. For example, some platforms are use-based and can have subscription fees attached that add up quickly. Having an in-house platform will mitigate those particular costs, but in today’s rapidly advancing landscape, requirements change so frequently that this method may not be worth the time or expense. As soon as the system is up and running, it’s likely already outdated. An outside platform, supported by a team of experts, is primed for these scenarios and will ensure there is little, if any, interruption in service.
While cost and time-to-launch should be taken into consideration when choosing a potential IoT platform, your business’s specific needs and use case are the most critical to consider. Begin by asking questions like:
Is the platform scalable?
What measures are in place for redundancies or disaster recovery?
How secure is the platform and does that level of security meet the security needs of the business?
Does it allow interoperability with third party providers?
There are many considerations to keep in mind before venturing out into the world of IoT. It’s worth the time to look into a platform that will suit both your current and future needs.
Still have questions? Curious about how your IoT application would interact with a cloud platform? Feel free to reach out to our team.