Choosing the Right IoT Platform: The Ultimate Checklist

Choosing the right IoT platform requires a deep exploration of both your business' needs and the capabilities, reliability, and scalability of the different IoT platforms you're considering.

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Whether you are neck-deep in product development or in search of a better enterprise architecture, IoT matters more than you might think. The Internet of Things (IoT) represents a very broad and complex term which points toward a single mission—interconnectivity. No matter which IoT platform you pick for your devices, it’ll be the bedrock on which your product connects to the cloud. Choosing the right IoT platform can be a daunting task with the mystery that often enshrouds IoT and the din of marketing buzz surrounding competing platforms. This article is your checklist—your guide to choosing the best IoT platform for your needs.However, choosing the right IoT platform isn’t as easy as it seems at first. There are numerous categories of IoT systems to consider, all of which offer more or less advanced options depending on your needs. With that in mind, we are here to take a look at how you can choose the right IoT platform for your team and business to become even more effective through digital transformation.

Initial Questions to Consider

Before we get into the deeper meaning behind IoT, let’s answer some questions together. These questions concern your plans for the IoT platform, the longevity of your project, and the budgetary and long-term plans:
  • Why do you think you need an IoT platform?
    • Do you have several candidates up for consideration?
    • Do you have referrals for these platforms from partners or competitors?
  • Do the IoT platforms you consider using have a history of successful deployments that have endured? Have your candidate platforms been around long enough to prove their reliability?
  • Are these platforms able to scale with your project and offer global connectivity and coverage?
  • What are the security parameters of the IoT platforms you have in mind?
  • Are the IoT platforms you have in mind part of managed cloud services (AWS, Azure, GCP) or will they require frequent lower-level maintenance and infrastructural support (i.e., are they open source)?
    • Speaking of support, do the platforms in question offer customer support for their clients? What do people say about the platforms’ customer success teams?
While these questions may seem overwhelming at first, they will help you narrow the search of your next IoT platform fairly well. After all, you want to avoid using untested, expensive, or unreliable platforms for your products. Your brand’s reputation and revenue are on the line.

How to Choose the Right IoT Platform

1. Gauge Your ROI

Choosing the right platform for your IoT device development often comes down to pure RoI. Return on Investment (RoI) is very important, especially with startups and small firms with a lot to lose. In that regard, make sure to develop a roadmap for your IoT development before opting for a platform. In it, you should decide what aspects of IoT you will use the most, as well as how many different devices you plan to develop.Your IoT initiative performance metrics should also be expressed through responsible KPIs. If customer satisfaction and word of mouth are the most important elements for you, Salesforce IoT offers comprehensive monetization and user experience capabilities for your IoT devices. The total sum of expenditures for your IoT platform should be considerably lower than the total revenue you made. As we’ve mentioned before, you might not need all the options that the most advanced and popular IoT platforms offer.

2. Retrofitting the Platform

Chances are that your development won’t focus solely on a single IoT device. In that vein, make sure that your platform of choice is capable of being retrofitted for different purposes. Platforms such as Google Cloud’s  IoT offering provide numerous opportunities for networking between devices, as well as for retrofitting the code to suit your needs. The biggest reason to choose Google IoT Core today is probably this: your business is already deeply integrated with GCP. IoT Core is undergoing a lot of product development; they’re rolling out numerous new features. Nonetheless, retrofitting IoT Core yourself remains difficult right now because Google’s documentation is lacking.

3. Check the Update Consistency

As with any piece of software, IoT platforms can stagnate without constant updates. Check the update and development history of your IoT platform candidates before committing to any of them. Also check the success rate for update rollouts. Did previous updates result in outages? If you opt for something popular, up-to-date, and flexible such as Microsoft Azure IoT, you won’t have to worry about ongoing support and development updates.Make sure that the development team behind your platform is still ready and able to deliver bug fixes, customer support, and new features to the table. It can be very difficult to backpedal and transfer your work to another platform if your initial choosing turns sour. Don’t rush into production. Go through the update logs of your potential IoT platforms and talk to longterm customers before anything else.

4. Versatility in Delivery

Relying solely on one form of data delivery with IoT platforms might not be a smart idea. The truth is that you never know when a power outage, a connection error, a bad firmware update, or something else might happen in the field. Your device might become unusable or even do the opposite of what you designed it to do in the first place. A good example of IoT versatility can be seen in Amazon Web Services: a comprehensive IoT platform capable of more than meets the eye in the development sense.In that regard, make sure that the IoT platform you settle for has several data delivery methods available, including cloud, on-premise, and edge deliveries. That way, your clients and end-users will always have a backup plan to fall back on should the primary cloud connection fail.

Don’t Overcommit

Lastly, it’s important to consider that your IoT platform will represent the lifeline of your business and its development. In that respect, don’t overcommit to a single platform and expect everything to go smoothly in the future. Create a proverbial escape plan in case something happens to your devices through the IoT platform you choose. Remember that while it’s in the platform provider’s best interests to lock you in, it might not be in your business’ best interests to overcommit to one provider.An unexpected update might corrupt your code, your customers might get their data breached, or your platform provider might go belly up. In layman’s terms, don’t put all your eggs in one basket and always plan in advance. That way, your business will thrive and you will have ample opportunity to innovate and break new industry ground.Written by Kristin Savage, linguist & writer, Pick Writers.