Use of readily available IoT, Internet of Things, platform saves years of development of efforts and 100s of thousands of dollars. They also enable you to take your solutions to market very quickly.
An IoT or IIOT platform is by definition is an operating system to develop IoT applications and solutions in short duration. The platforms obviate the need of heavy investment and long duration of developing IoT solutions. The platforms are a boon for IoT enthusiasts, small to medium businesses, IoT solutions and application providers and developers.
In a nutshell, the most important reasons for the use of IoT ( or IIOT) platforms are:
- It addresses industry specific issues in transport, supply chain logistics and cold chain logistics are already thought of and incorporated with the platforms
- It allows you to experiment with hypotheses and validate your business case quickly
- It comes with readily available essential infrastructure and framework that enable you to go to market quickly
- It provides necessary tools , guides and other help to develop applications of IoT more efficiently
- It reduces your development and maintenance costs
- It curtails the costs of failure by an order of magnitude.
We will have all these benefits discussed in more detail in subsequent paragraphs.
What is IoT platform?
An IoT or IIOT platform, essentially, consists of the Iot software & infrastructure that provide the essentials framework or backbone to develop IoT solutions. It may comprise of one or more of the following:
- Standardized hardware
- IoT Gateway to communicate or perform on the edge tasks and
- Communication layer such as GPRS/GSM, wi-fi
- Data storage
- Decision making module to identify, classify and perform tasks on the cloud as a service.
- Device control module to automate & ensure coordination between IoT devices
- APIs to facilitate IoT cloud platform and device software deployment
The above list is not exhaustive as different IoT platform come in different flavours. It should be noted that each IoT platform incorporates its own features and operational methods. Every platform can have different layers Different platforms span different parts of the stack. Some platform can work with plethora of devices or hardware while some require specific hardware. In addition, some of the IoT platforms work very well with 3rd party systems for applications while some are closed.
Existing and upcoming IoT platforms provide a sense of wide variety and difference between the IoT platforms . The examples include big technology platforms like Cisco IoT cloud connect, AWS IoT platform, Google IoT core, Microsoft Azure IoT hub and IBM Watson IoT.
Examples from IoT startups are TransportHub, Ayla Networks, Electric Imp, myDevices etc..
It may also be borne in mind that specific platforms are better for certain set of industries than others. I will cover that topic in later article.
Why should not I build my own IoT platform?
It is like developing your own Operating System before developing applications. Therefore it is dependent on host of factors such as availability of wider pool of talent with experience in different technologies, time in hand , investment availability etc.
With the availability of so many tutorials and open source tools , it is not impossible to build one’s own IoT platform. However, the Iot development of one’s platform requires :
- Wide range of technical knowhow hence the breadth of experience in terms of manpower
- Long gestation period as the development involves different stack be built and tested under multiple use cases
Why use an industry specific IoT or IIOT platform?
There are multitude of reasons why use readily available IoT platform and that too which is especially catering to the specific industry such as transport & logistics industry. We are presenting the most important reasons and t
1. It helps your IoT solutions to go live easily
Industrial IoT or Industrial IoT Applications are focused on solving the problems for specific industry such as transport & logistics. That hastens the learning curve for someone who wants to make the IoT solution for that industry only. Since the IoT platform is designed for a particular industry the information and tools to master are relatively direct in solving the problems of that industry.
For instance, in our case translating protocols from the devices will require varied level of depth in understanding depending on the platform. The more generic is industry platform , the more difficult is to learn the basics of the platform.
2. It allows you test you business hypotheses & lets you validate your business case early
Most ( in fact all ) of the startups spend lots of money and efforts in validating the business case. This is usually done via building proof of concept prototypes. The prototypes can then be tested either in simulated environment or on a limited scale in an actual scenario.
Putting out prototypes help the feedback from the prospective customers and/ or help you in demonstrating the solution.
The use of IoT platforms shortens your development time in building prototypes and iterating them quickly as you receive feedback.
The IoT platforms let you develop prototypes in weeks instead of months. Moreover , industry specific IoT platform can further reduce the time to develop to few days.
3. It helps in rapid rollout with easy-to-use frameworks
You may appreciate that building a prototype hardly guarantees success. In fact, as soon as customer validation is obtained, the need for speed in rollout can be a critical component for your business to succeed.
The rollout in production environment is filled with many technical, functional and organizational challenges.
An IoT platform helps you in overcoming these problems with ready to use and tested frameworks for quick deployment.
They solve the issues, to name a few, of:
- Maintenance and upgradation
- In some cases, even device manufacturing can be avoided by utilizing the framework without sacrificing the functionality
The above mentioned issues are likely to inordinate amount of time , resources and efforts. By our estimates more than 80% of the time will be spend in developing an IoT platform and only less than 20% time is spent on solution development which earns revenues and sustains the business.
4. It provides necessary tools , guides and other help to develop applications more efficiently
Many of the underlying features and problems of IoT projects are similar in nature. Also different solutions may share those features. These features are incorporated in IoT platforms and let you develop your solution with easy replication of common features.
Also , IoT platforms come usually with many other support mechanisms such as :
- Knowledge and troubleshooting forums especially the large platforms
- If you are in need to get quick answers and guidance then smaller platforms help you with chats and calls to handhold and troubleshoot
- Almost all IoT platforms come with detailed step-by-step guiding materials such as literature and videos
- Links to further guidance
The availability of materials ensured reduction in development time and assist you in selling your solution to your customers quickly. It is always more expensive to build the common features from grounds up compared to customizing available features available with IoT Platforms. Here it is important to note that industry specific IoT platforms such IoT platform for transport & logistics will further reduce the time and resources for customization.
5. It reduces your development and maintenance costs
An IoT platform can reduce substantial costs in development and maintenance by providing commonly used features across the platforms. Although every IoT solution uniquely addresses a business problem, there are sets of common elements across almost all IoT solutions.. These elements are normally provisioned by an IoT platform in varied degree..
Most commonly seen elements across different IoT solutions are :
- Easy installations. An industry specific IoT platform permits plug-and-play features which reduces the installation and testing time. Installation of IoT solution is usually a high cost activity and quick and robust installation process is likely to reduce the costs of installation substantially.
- Remote availability. An IoT platform can have provision for troubleshooting the edge devices to great extent and thus save a great deal of resources by obviating the need for in-person troubleshooting
- Easy integration with 3rd Party systems . Almost all the IoT platforms have a REST API or other forms of gateways to access the data, build device IoT control logic and develop end applications such as Dashboards for customers using BI tools . Some IoT platforms offer ( for a fee, of course) ready-made tools to integrate with widely used application platform
- Device monitoring & management. Any IoT solutions with multiple customers shall involve large numbers of IoT devices to manage. Monitoring and managing the sheer volume of IoT devices is a daunting task. IoT platforms allow you to monitor and manage any disruption with smart monitoring & management tools
- Role based access . In order to reduce the risk of mismanagement of IoT systems, it is essential to provide different level of access to different roles. Many IoT platforms provide the feature to restrict the access as defined through the system
- Software updates. IoT systems are build with various software layers including the ones operating the devices on the edge. A decent IoT system shall permit for quick and easy software updates. The updates can even be installed remotely using the update tools
- Exception alert. A useful feature of a typical IoT system is to enable users for prevention of an anomaly. This is usually done via Push Notification with sms, email, whatsapp alerts. The exception management feature of a typical IoT platform essentially achieves this objective. You can use the feature and configure the system to assign exception to different end users by defining rules.
- Data analytics. The Data Analytics is essentially a necessary feature which can take different form. On one hand you can basic analytics by downloading the data in Excel or another you can integrate your ML/AI based tools with raw or refined data from IoT platform. Almost all IoT systems incorporate Data Analytics Features either by providing the tools directly or provide APIs.
6. It curtails the costs of failure by an order of magnitude.
Finally, a readily available cloud based IoT platform as a service reduces the costs of development by more than 80% as compared to when IoT platform is developed from scratch. Not to say that readily available IoT platform curtails the time to development, time to prototype , time to market and time to monetize your IoT solutions by many months and sometimes years.
Any innovative project or solution is , by definition, risky. We know that more than nine-tenth startups fail to meet the expectations of investors. Here the IoT platform can offer more room for you as solution provider by reducing costs, iterating your solutions fast and earn the scale quickly.
So, a readily available IoT platform brings large value to the table by reducing the need of high cost manpower, by rapid prototyping and by quickening the speed to reach market.
A suitable IoT platform reduces both the direct costs of development and opportunity costs . It reduces the risks by permitting rapid iterations to meet market needs and enhances the probability of success by great degree.
Moreover, an industry specific platform reduces the need of customization and thus reduces the costs further.
TransportHub provides you custom development of IoT products, Iot Services and solutions at low costs. TransportHub is the first technology ecosystem catering to only Transport & Logistics. TransportHub has been successfully delivering IoT Projects for a number of clients for last 5 years. It specializes in integrating various legacy system such as PLC systems and enhance the power of cutting edge IoT technologies.