Currently, there are more than 20 IoT platform vendors offering products with different capabilities and features. The downside is that executives don’t always know how to evaluate these IoT products and services. The resulting hesitation can unfortunately slow down IoT adoption and prevent them from gaining a competitive advantage in terms of faster time to market, scalable applications, decreasing costs, and minimizing technical errors.
In this article, we plan to provide an in-depth overview of what an IoT platform is, what it can offer executives, and share the best platforms on the market today to help simplify your decision-making process.
What is an IoT platform?
IoT platforms facilitate the scalable deployment of IoT sensors by providing a platform for secure management and analysis of their IoT devices and data. The important functions of an IoT platform include data management, analytics, application development, interoperability, device management, and security.
An IoT platform is a middleware that integrates applications and hardware while providing an environment for data analytics. These platforms transfer information between two IoT layers: hardware and applications (see Figure 1). They transmit data from a variety of hardware to the cloud to make it useful for applications while transferring commands from applications to hardware.
What are the components of an IoT platform?
To understand IoT platforms, businesses should understand the components of IoT systems. Though every IoT platform has its own specific set of unique features and mechanisms, a complete IoT platform has four different components:
- To understand IoT platforms, businesses should understand the layers of IoT systems. Though every IoT platform has its own specific set of unique features and mechanisms, a complete IoT platform is composed of six different layers:
- Infrastructure: It enables the functioning of the platform. Its building blocks are container management — which is, organizing a large number of software applications — internal platform messaging, orchestration of IoT solution clusters, and others.
- Communication: It allows for the devices to connect to the cloud.
- Core features: They include features such as data collection, device management, configuration management — which is, maintaining consistency of a product’s performance — messaging, and over-the-air (OTA) software updates.
- Reporting: It allows for the generation of custom reports of IoT devices and platform performance.
- Visualizations: It’s for data representation in user applications.
- If you are curious about learning more about IoT applications that offer all the functionalities discussed so far, we have a vendor list of the top 143 IoT software applications of 2021.
- Rule engine, analytics, and alerting: They are responsible for notifying you about any anomalies detected in your solution. This layer can also be viewed as the monitoring layer of your IoT system.
- If you are interested in familiarizing yourself with the best IoT analytics platforms, we have a list of the top 7 vendors of such services.
- Investigate the connectivity, data processing, and administrative capabilities of IoT platforms before making a purchase decision.
- Ensure that the IoT platform connects with IoT devices and integrates with all connected device apps and APIs.
Why is it important now?
An IoT platform simplifies development by solving many of the problems and complexities that companies face when building an IoT application. By using a platform, companies can focus on the solution instead of dealing with setting up an infrastructure to support the IoT application.
Figure 2 below shows the proliferation of IoT devices. As the number of sensors and devices increases, so does the data collected and the complexity of IoT projects. An IoT platform helps companies combine a variety of devices and manage IoT data on a large scale.
What are the benefits of an IoT platform?
Faster deployment: An IoT platform is software that facilitates the building of IoT systems by providing various integrated tools. It facilitates data collection and transmission, device management, and application development within the IoT system.
Reduced investment for setting up an IoT system: Resorting to an off-the-shelf IoT platform enables companies to find a compromise between investment and operating costs. An IoT platform lowers the development and testing costs of an IoT system. However, relying on a third-party platform provider requires the company to pay long-term subscription or licensing fees.
What are the important capabilities of an IoT platform?
- Application development: Users can develop and deploy IoT applications that are compatible with devices compatible with the IoT platform.
- Data management at scale: With the increasing number of sensors and devices, collected data and the complexity of IoT projects increase. An IoT platform helps businesses manage data at scale.
- Analytics: An IoT platform can have analytics capabilities such as rule engines, event stream processing, machine learning, and data visualization. It can support the analysis of data either at the edge or in the cloud to generate actionable insights.
- Interoperability & integration: A platform can provide communication with different types of devices (sensors, cameras, wearables, etc.) so that their data can be transmitted to the cloud correctly.
- Device Management: IoT platforms enable users to track, monitor, and manage physical IoT devices. Effective device management is important for the connectivity and security of IoT devices.
- Security: Organizations can ensure the security of data within the IoT system by relying on the features of an IoT platform.
Recommendation: Evaluate and prioritize these benefits and capabilities (i.e. cost/benefit and ROI analysis) according to your enterprise’s specific needs and requirements.
What are the leading IoT platform providers?
- ARTIK Cloud by Samsung
- Autodesk Fusion
- AWS IoT
- B+B SmartWorx by Advantech
- Bosch IoT Suite
- Carriots Platform
- GE Predix
- Google Cloud IoT
- KAA Platform
- Losant Platform
- Macchina Platform
- Microsoft Azure IoT Suite
- MyDevices Cayenne Platform
- Initial State Platform
- IBM Watson IoT
- Particle Cloud
- Salesforce IoT Cloud
- Samsara Platform
- SiteWhere Platform
- Temboo Platform
- ThingSpeak Platform
- Ubidots Platform
- WebNMS Platform
- Xively Platform
- Zebra Zatar Cloud
For more on IoT
We’ve written a few articles about IoT technology before, feel free to check them out:
- Capture More IoT Market Share
- 7 Ways IoT Will Improve Your Banking Experience
- IoT Analytics: An In-depth Guide
Check our data-driven hub of IoT solutions and tools.
And we can guide you through the process:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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