You’ve got a fantastic idea for a new IoT product. Now you need to turn it into a reality – and that requires an IoT development platform.
Sure, some organisations develop their own IoT platforms from scratch – but given that these platforms need to be able to support potentially millions of individual products’ digital identities – as well as the data they generate – this is not generally a viable option. There are plenty of existing platforms out there, designed and managed by true specialists, which can enable you as a product designer or developer to really focus on your specialism.
Yet ‘plenty of’ can be a daunting prospect in itself. How do you choose between them?
While the IoT has expanded into a huge and diverse landscape, it is still a (relatively) new technological ecosystem. Most providers of IoT development platforms are still relatively young businesses, and said platforms are evolving all the time. It can therefore be difficult to identify which platforms have suitable expertise and experience behind them, and what to look for in terms of future-proofing your IoT investment as your business grows.
Here are three key areas to consider when choosing a platform.
There are several different aspects to this. First, the platform needs to be able to connect to hundreds of thousands or even millions of products, capturing and transmitting the relevant data seamlessly. Secondly, the platform needs to be able to support you as your own business grows, acting as a driver rather than a restrictor on your own growth and development. And thirdly, it needs to be able to respond smoothly as your products themselves evolve and change, or new ones are added to your portfolio. Discuss these potential future scenarios in depth with your proposed platform provider, and consider different scenarios for how your business and offering might look in the months and years to come.
Users and interfaces
Much of your IoT platform will, to a certain extent, remain invisible, quietly collecting, sharing, analysing translating data underneath day-to-day operations. The visible aspects of IoT platforms – the interfaces and screens that users access, and the ways in which they can manipulate and make sense of the data collected – are, however, absolutely fundamental to the ultimate success of your IoT product. Consider, then, how intuitive these interfaces are, how much scope there is for personalisation and modification, and how well they match the needs of your product developers and end users.
Information security is a vital consideration throughout the IoT lifecycle, from product development right through to deployment and beyond. The vast volumes of data being collected and transmitted as part of IoT ecosystems needs to be protected from malicious and accidental loss, while the vast volume of devices that make up those ecosystems also need to be identified and authenticated. You need to consider how your IoT development platform makes up for any potential shortfalls with your end products in being able to support advanced cybersecurity mechanisms – particularly small or simple devices cannot generally be protected with inbuilt technology of the same sophistication as, say, a smartphone or a tablet.