Considerations when choosing an IoT Platform for your organization – Part I


The IoT Market

The Internet of Things (IoT) has already seen big investments in solutions and IoT platforms. With an expected 50 billion active devices by 2020 (CISCO), investment in IoT is expected to reach $1.3 trillion globally by 2020 (i-scoop). Needless to say big players are investing big money in technology to harness and leverage IoT.

Early focus on IoT was consumer-centric. Think wearables like fitness bands that track your heart rate and physical activity or smart home appliances like refrigerators that keep track of your grocery needs. This is referred to as the CIoT (Consumer Internet of Things). These are innovative applications using IoT. Since they are consumer focused there’s been more general buzz about them. There is a big CIoT market and it will continue to see innovation and investment. The smart appliance market is expected to reach 500 million appliances and $38 billion by 2020 (MarketsAndMarkets). The wearables market is expected to be $34 billion and 441 million devices by 2021 (Forbes). IoT Platform for a Connected Factory

 

But the bigger IoT market slice is with devices for industrial manufacturing, construction/engineering energy, chemical and healthcare settings. This is  referred to as the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things). The ability to capture, store and analyze all the big data generated from those devices has motivated major investment. Digitizing factories, cities, buildings, chemical plants and hospitals place billions of devices in play. The IIoT market is expected to reach $195 billion by 2022 (MarketsAndMarkets) and nearly $1 trillion by 2025 (Grandview Research). Machines, equipment and apparatuses are being instrumented, interconnected, and made intelligent to provide immediate insight allowing business driven actions to be taken at a massive scale (IBM via Huffington Post). This pushes new revenue streams, improves product engineering and offers insight that can reduce cost.

IoT Platform Vendors

Many vendors have developed platforms that make it easier to build IoT solutions. The IoT platforms address the common features and functions that help get devices connected and communicating in a secure manner in order to collect massive amounts of data and turn it into actionable business insight. Among these major vendors are:

  • Amazon (AWS IoT)
  • C3IoT (IoT Platform)
  • CISCO (CISCO IoT)
  • GE (Predix)
  • Google (Google Cloud IoT)
  • IBM (Watson IoT)
  • Microsoft (Azure IoT)
  • Oracle (Oracle IoT Connected Platform)
  • PTC (ThingWorx)
  • Salesforce (IoT Cloud)
  • SAP (Cloud Platform IoT)
  • Siemens (Mindsphere)

Selecting an IoT Platform

With so many companies and choices of platforms, how do you choose? You’ll need to consider the following when looking at an IoT platform:

Cost

  • You can tell by the companies listed that these platforms are intended primarily for larger organizations. Though several are intended to scale small to large, many are designed for large scale enterprises and have pricing models that reflect that.
  • Most offer a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) model that allows for faster implementation and minimal hardware and software licensing – so little to no capital expenditures. Cost is based on consumption of services and application features employed.
  • Even with predominately SaaS models, there are still system management and monitoring and regularly housekeeping to be under taken. This can be taken in house or outsourced as a managed serviced.

Device Connectivity

  • Communication – devices need a network on which to connect and communicate
  • Messaging – particularly for industrial settings, guaranteeing messages from devices are delivered is key
  • Registration and Management – each device needs to be identifiable along with location, purpose, measurement capabilities, etc. and this information needs to me maintainable. Firmware and other updates and information will need to be placed on devices from time to time. Ideally this registration and management can be handled remotely and automated.

Security

  • Devices and gateways need to be secured from both outside network threats as well as physical access (as appropriate).

Operational solutions (Digitize)

  • The platform should facilitate integration with other enterprise applications (ERP, CRM, WMS, etc.)
  • Consider pre-built solutions like remote monitoring, asset management, inventory management, predictive maintenance, connected field service, process automation, OEE, billing, etc.

Hot and Cold Paths for Data

  • Hot path for real-time analytics and alerting
  • Cold path for trend analysis, deeper insights from artificial intelligence and machine learning, automated decisions
  • A variety of storage options appropriate for scale, cost and use of data

Reporting and Analytics

  • Classic reporting
  • Advanced visualization and analysis
  • Mobile
  • Context sensitive options – from executive suite to factory floor environments to roaming managers

In my next post I’ll delve deeper into the common features these vendors are baking into their IoT technology and discuss what makes a robust IoT platform.

Joe Guy

Joe Guy

COO & Co-founder at Mariner
Joe is passionate about helping companies leverage their information assets using IoT and Advanced Analytics to gain strategic business insight to improve revenue and profitability. Joe is involved with business development and strategy and leads the operations and human resources areas of Mariner, ensuring that our customers achieve their goals while our employees have a blast helping them do it.
Joe Guy

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