The Internet of Things transformation is being driven by enterprises. Consumer products such as wearables and connected electronics certainly garner a large part of the market, but IDC estimates more than 80 percent of IoT spend through 2020 will be on B2B applications and use cases. The Internet of Things will be one of the primary drivers of the digital transformation that enterprises will undergo in the coming years, creating a self-learning environment that will drive digital disruption in physical world. IoT will be a critical piece of this transformation as it allows new business models to emerge and enables changes in work processes, productivity improvements, cost containment and enhanced customer experiences.
IoT platforms are getting a lot of attention as most major IoT players are rolling one out in one form or another. Platforms that have the right elements can provide tremendous value by linking the IoT endpoints to the applications and analytics needed to generate business outcomes. It’s the linchpin in a holistic IoT solution as it enables the data generated at the endpoints to be processed and meaningfully used by end users.
According to IDC, there are five key elements that make up a valuable IoT platform. Below is my take on where the greatest value in each of these elements can be found.
The starting point of the IoT is connecting and managing devices. There is no data allowing us to make better decisions without devices feeding us that data, so of course device management is a critical component of an IoT platform. A good one automatically provisions, updates and ensures the ongoing ability of the endpoint to receive and send data—and is able to ensure device management functions are able to be fulfilled and maintained cost effectively at the edge of the network.
An IoT platform needs to make it easy for IoT service providers to manage security and access of connected endpoints. It should provide geographic reach and breadth, and be local and global at the same time: complying with local regulations and making it easy to scale globally. Connectivity management should provide communications from device to cloud over multiple protocols and for many device types. It provides speed to market of connected endpoints globally as well as the secure connectivity to these things.
Application management is aimed at reducing the cost and complexity of developing IoT applications that need to collect, manage, and analyze data from a huge array of connected devices. This element includes functionality made available via APIs that enable the development of horizontal and/or vertical applications that leverage data generated by the connected endpoints in the IoT solution. Advances in this area such as cognitive APIs are opening up a whole new world of what will be possible for IoT development.
Dashboard and Reporting
Dashboard and reporting tools make it easy to decipher what the data is saying so you can make better decisions on how to steer the business based on analytics. It enables the IoT solution provider or end user to create automated, repeatable and management-oriented summaries of IoT data. Reporting tools normalize data and allow the dashboard creator to integrate data from the IoT solution in a report with data from the enterprise cloud or other enterprise systems. Making quick decisions based on insights from data will be the way enterprises separate themselves from the pack in the coming years.
Analytics reveal insightful, actionable and predictive data—contextualizing IoT data in social, historical and real-time contexts. The ability to plug in additional data sources such as weather and social data will provide a better picture of the information captured. IoT platform analytics can raise the relevancy of data interpretations, reducing the amount of time that end users spend piecing together data outputs. Cognitive analytics will allow deep insights from what would otherwise remain dark data. These insights will drive digital disruption of the physical world, business processes and real-time decision-making.
We have worked to include all these key IoT platform functionalities in the IBM Watson IoT Platform. We think if you give it a try you’ll see how it can help give your business a leg up. Try it for free.