The Internet began as a communication medium between two or more parties, but slowly and steadily, it has become the lever around which our lives rotate. This has hugely benefited humanity by democratizing access to creation and distribution tools, and by fuelling the growth of creative economies.
Since its inception, it has always been by the people, for the people, and of the people. But with the advent of the Industry 4.0 movement, smart manufacturing has come to the fore. This calls to augment the physical processes through the use of digital technologies, such as big data, to increase the business output further.
And how is this possible?
This can be done through the use of an IoT platform that can collect and analyze swathes of data through a web of interconnected devices spread across the business.
But then what is the problem?
Today, there are countless IoT platforms available in the market that are enough to confuse you. So whether you are an experienced IoT developer, a hobbyist who loves to explore and play with technology, or a CXO trying to select the right IoT platform, this post will first help you immensely. Firstly, we will take an in-depth look at the most important IoT platforms out there. After that, we will study the different parameters that you need to keep in mind while making the final purchase.
End-to-end IoT platforms
An IoT network has billions of devices interconnected together. An end-to-end IoT platform is designed in a way that it provides the required device management tools to help integrate all of them. This helps countless of such devices to be in sync with each other; gather real-time data and share the latest updates. It also provides the ability to monitor a huge number of devices conveniently to the systems manager. Moreover, an end-to-end platform supports OTA (Over-the-air) updates wherein the devices can be updated from a remote place. Cellular modem and a secure cloud connection are other important features of an end-to-end IoT platform.
Inventory and Connectivity Management Platforms
Inventory management is one of those departments that make use of billions of interconnected devices to carry out its daily activities.
But what would you do if you want to monitor a particular device?
As a solution to this problem, every device in an IoT platform is assigned a SIM card, but what if it gets difficult for you to locate the SIM card itself?
This is where an Inventory and Connectivity management platform comes to our aid. It helps confirm when a SIM was deployed, when it will be out-of-service, identify the invoice number attached to a particular SIM card, and much more. This increases the productivity of your inventory management department exponentially.
IoT Cloud Platforms
Cloud Platforms grant you the ability to keep track of all devices in the network easily. It keeps you away from heavy investment needed to set up the infrastructure and maintain it on a regular basis. Also, the vendor will train your workforce so that they can become proficient in using IoT systems. An added advantage is that you can fully or partly outsource your IoT needs to a third party vendor.
After scrutinizing the three most important IoT platforms, let’s examine the important parameters you should have in mind while making the purchase:
- Check whether the vendor’s network coverage is sufficient enough to fulfill your business’s present and future needs
- Analyze whether you need a Wi-Fi or cellular solution for your IoT platform
- Examine the market presence of the IoT platform. Go through the use-cases carefully and read testimonials of big clients to gauge the effectiveness of the IoT platform.
- Some vendors excel in providing end-to-end solutions while others have expertise in connectivity platforms. Closely examine your present and future IoT needs and only then make the selection. Do not rush or you might have to pay for it later.
- Check how long has the IoT platform been in the business. A minimum of 5+ years of experience provides a testimony to the fact that the IoT platform has been doing well.
- Determine the geographical region covered by the IoT platform and evaluate it according to your business needs. If you have offices in multiple countries, search for a platform that provides global coverage.
- Examine whether the vendor provides the facility to pause or suspend the data plan and use it only when needed. Drop the vendor from your list if they don’t have a fair data plan.
- Carefully check how the vendor has dealt with past security issues. If the record is not impressive, it is better to search for someone else.
- Building and implementation of an IoT platform for the product development process is not only a costly but complex process as well. Check whether the vendor gives enough assistance in the deployment of the infrastructure.
- Integration of different services such as device diagnostics, system updates, sim cards, and cloud connection facilities is imperative for the smooth functioning of an IoT system. Check whether the vendor provides all of these.
- Carefully inspect whether the vendor allows you to fix bugs from a remote place.
- Different companies have different target audiences and face non-alike challenges. Building everything from the start can be a challenging task. Check whether the vendor provides starter packages or developer kits that you can use as a stepping stone. This can be customized later once you develop operational excellence.
- The hardware and software needs of numerous companies are met by devices installed outside the primary work premises. If that’s the case with you, do not forget to check whether the vendor provides enough means to monitor and manage IoT devices remotely.
To summarize the above post, in a nutshell, it is imperative to understand that an IoT platform solves myriad operational challenges. And when it is coupled with an ERP or a CRM system, it improves your decision-making abilities, increases the number of positive customer experiences, and generates higher revenues. With the power of billions of interconnected devices in your hands, you can do wonders!
Featured image source: Freepik