You have identified a market demand for an IoT Solution. You have a device and a communication channel strategy. How do you select the right IoT platform to provide the IoT Software capability needed to complete your solution and start addressing the market demand?
In June 2017, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) published a paper asking “Who Will Win the IoT Platform Wars?” They go on to define the three main capabilities of a complete IoT Platform:
What I like most about the paper is the section titled “Key Factors to Selecting the Right IoT Platform” or buying guidelines. I consider BCG a credible source for research and industry advice, therefore I set out to evaluate my company’s IoT Platform, Bridgera IoT, against BCG’s five “Key Factors”.
The first priority is to select a vendor with a complete IoT Platform:
Bridgera IoT aligns completely to factor 1 for a full star.
We will connect to any device with any protocol and any response type. For example, a device may use HTTP as the internet protocol for transferring data. Or it may use TCP, MQTT, UDP, etc. Bridgera IoT can adapt. Bridgera IoT will also adapt to the data or response type, i.e., a simple text file, JSON file, or XML. As a matter of fact, you could have a mix of devices that are communicating in different ways.
We provide a data processing capability by leveraging big data technology (see prior article) allowing us to aggregate data from multiple sources at any velocity, variety, and volume.
Finally, we enable applications that integrate with existing systems and processes and provide custom interfaces for people to interact with the IoT system.
The point BCG makes here is you have a choice. Engage with a startup, who may provide a great deal of flexibility and ingenuity to deliver a complete solution at the risk of them folding or being acquired. Or engage with a large established software company who will most have gaps but with the expectation that they will fill in gaps through future enhancements or acquisitions. It reminds me of the old marketing campaign from IBM, nobody gets fired from buying from IBM. While they may not have the best in class, most flexible solution, they are a known entity that will not disappear. But you never really know if IBM delivered at a justifiable price point.
Half a star simply because Bridgera is a relatively new software company. This is where you must make a judgement call. Bridgera is clearly closer to a startup than it is to a large established software company. However, the startup risk is mitigated by the fact that Bridgera is under the same ownership as Spectraforce Technologies, Inc., a large established IT recruiting and staffing company.
Bridgera’s model is to provide a custom solution built on Bridgera IoT, providing all the flexibility you could need, fast. Without having to hire developers.
A large established software company will most likely give you a sense of security, according to BCG, however that security may be at the expense of speed and flexibility, ultimately requiring you to hire developers to close gaps on your timeline which adds risk.
In my humble opinion, this factor should be bolded and flashing as it is all too often overlooked, yet a common reason for failure (see “Why IoT projects are failing”). BCG claims that 69% of developers they interviewed rated the difficulty of filling gaps in their current IoT Platform as “moderate” or “hard”. 40% found learning the new platform harder than learning most programming frameworks. Let that soak in!
At minimum, if you must fill gaps with additional development, be certain you have developers with the proper skills and they are onboard and committed to your success (#AreYouInTheSoftwareBusiness).
Bridgera IoT shines in this area because we don’t need you to provide a developer capability of any kind. Full star!
Bridgera performs all the development to fill any gaps related to your IoT use case and maintain the system for the life of the contract. This includes connecting to your device, programming logic specific to your use case, integrations with business systems, and enabling applications and interfaces for end user access to the IoT System.
BCG is making two points. First, consider an open framework that is modular, with easy to use APIs. Second, a framework that will easily integrate with existing systems.
Bridgera developers will provide custom API’s during the implementation as needed for integration with existing systems. These API’s are tailored to the needs of the existing system if required. Bridgera IoT is also modular, leveraging big data technology for data ingestion, message brokering, processing, and storage. API access to data and events allows for an integration with an existing application or user portals. Alternatively, web and mobile applications are developed, enabling people to interact with the IoT system and consume or visualize the data specific to their needs.
The important thing here is to consider the economics of IoT solutions and ensure that the way you will acquire the final solution fits with your business constraints. From an economic standpoint, you will need to understand up front or one-time fees, reoccurring monthly or annual fees, and if you have to hire or allocate people to the effort. These fees should be evaluated not just for the development effort but for the life of the product. Because time is money, do not ignore how long it will take to return value to your company.
We stand by the belief that an IoT Platform delivers zero value until it becomes IoT Software. Bridgera IoT is a modern platform with pre-existing features and capabilities that accelerate the implementation of IoT Software.
Bridgera performs all the front-end development work for a nominal fee, eliminating your need to hire developers. This includes connecting your devices, programming logic, and enabling custom applications. Once Bridgera IoT becomes IoT Software, perfectly aligned to your use case / specification, Bridgera’s DevOps team will operate the IoT software as a monthly subscription service that scales as the quantity of connected devices grows.
Bridgera also remains available and ready to develop and deploy future enhancements as your requirements evolve over time.
Four and a half stars out of five is our self-evaluation of Bridgera IoT as an IoT Platform based on Boston Consulting Group’s buying guidelines.
Bridgera IoT is an IoT Platform that is positioned to quickly becoming IoT Software enabling enterprise IoT Systems. Contact us today and let us know what you think.
About the Author: Ron Pascuzzi leads sales and marketing at Bridgera, LLC in Raleigh, NC. Ron is an evangelist for the Internet of Things and believes that IoT initiatives should not be compromised due to a lack of software development skills. Contact him to learn more about Bridgera IoT, not just another IoT Platform but Custom Software-as-a-Service for the Internet of Things.