Seeking an IoT Platform? Know What to Look For

February 20, 2017

An Internet of Things platform should help you with the software, security, data, and business analytics challenges of deploying an IoT solution—either for your own business, or for a client. Since choosing an IoT platform is the key IoT business decision you will need to make, it makes sense to make it carefully. But you can’t wait around, either, because you can’t really get to work until you have a good platform relationship in place.

Fortunately, Forrester Research’s new The Forrester Wave™: IoT Software Platforms, Q4 2016 can guide you through the steps you need to take in order to be able to evaluate competing IoT platform offerings, weigh the aspects that are most important to your business, and rank competing offerings in order of their match with your needs.  There are three large things to look at when evaluating an IoT platform:

What does the platform currently offer?

This can be surprisingly difficult to evaluate. Not only are platforms continuously extending their functions, they are also acquiring specialized vendors, such as analytics or augmented reality providers, and incorporating those offerings into their platform.

Ask these specific questions when looking at a platform offering:

  • How wide is their protocol support? A platform that does not support your customers’ protocols of interest may have other virtues, but your customers will be impatient if they need to make changes to accommodate the platform.
  • What is the strength of their console for managing virtual devices? This is essential for developing and testing applications for a wide range of connected and planned devices, and platforms vary in how they manage this key function.
  • How well do they support developers through their software development kits (SKDs) and prebuilt applications? Making life easier for your developers, whether employees or partners, can really speed the development and testing process.
  • What is the support for identity and access management? Managing many different roles with different needs and capabilities can be difficult and error prone, or it can be relatively easy and secure, depending on the capabilities the platform provides.
  • What are their advanced analytic capabilities? Depending on your plans, predictive analytics, augmented reality, and edge analytics can vary in their importance, but a robust analytic capability is essential.

What is the platform’s market presence?

Aside from capabilities, how big and influential is the respective vendor? This isn’t simply a matter of size or brand name. Network effects, influence, depth of expertise, and available resources are key—and will strongly affect how quickly you can expand your own market presence.

  • How many customer installations do they have?
  • What geographies are their clients in?
  • How robust is their partner network?

What is the platform strategy?

Nothing in IoT is standing still; you certainly aren’t. Once you understand the details of your potential platform’s current offering and their market presence, you need to understand where they are heading, and what you should expect from them in the future.

  • What enhancements are they planning?
  • How is their geographic reach going to expand?
  • Who is joining their partner network?

Make your decision based on a solid capabilities evaluation

This is not an easy decision, but it is a crucial one, and you want to make it as quickly as you can. Forrester Research’s in-depth analysis will help you minimize the risk and uncertainty of this decision.

Check out “The Forrester Wave™: IoT Software Platforms, Q4 2016” report, to learn key differentiators of IoT Software Platforms and how it can help simplify deploying, managing, operating, and capturing insights from IoT-enabled connected devices.

Download the Report