You’re a business with some useful applications. You want to use data collected from sensors out in the world to create a value chain, and you know the IoT is the way to do it.
In an earlier time, you might have been able to run your value chain through a network you controlled, to devices you owned, and protocols you had designed. But with the IoT, sensors originate from a vast number of different vendors, and the data they produce travels over a variety of networks, using numerous communications protocols.
It’s an immensely active and vital system, but one that is almost impossible to manage. How do you get data from a particular sensor, process it, and get the result back to the appropriate actuator?
The point of a platform is abstraction. It is a way of taking the specificities of all those sensors and networks and turning them into straightforward interfaces that can be easily interacted with. As a result, a business can understand its particular value chain, abstracted from the details of particular implementations, and focus on the development and deployment of its specific applications.
And platforms do a number of other things for you:
Like any powerful genie, an IoT platform is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.
Before investing in a platform, a business has to seriously interrogate its business goals, and understand how the capabilities of a platform can help it reach those goals. The same process is necessary for any technology acquisition, but the IoT’s scale and complexity dwarf anything previously encountered.
Understanding your offering, and its requirements, will help you decide what features and capabilities are most important in a platform.
Picking a platform, and the right mix of support services from that platform, may well be the most important business decision you will make.
Want to learn more about platforms and how to evaluate them, based on your specific requirements? Download the free white paper from O’Reilly Media, Evaluating and Choosing an IoT Platform.
A former engineer, Alex is now a writer on technical and healthcare business topics. He also provides marketing content for technical and healthcare businesses of all kinds at www.sturdywords.com.