The Integrity and Intrigue of IoT Platforms


The last count on the number of IoT Platforms which are jostling for space in the crowded IoT market place is 460 . There are analyst reports galore which explain the features and benefits of these platforms.

For an IoT platform to be called as a comprehensive, mature and end to end it has to have the 8 components with reasonable feature and technology depth which make an IoT platform.

To know what these 4 layers are which constitute 8 components. Let us get down to the basics of a typical IoT platform.

Hardware ( Device )  Layer :

  1. This is where data is produced.
  2. This includes the physical devices with their in-built microprocessors, sensors, actuators and communication hardware.
  3. This layer makes the devices “smart”.
  4. The 2 components which go with this layer are :
    1. Connectivity and Normalisation
    2. Device Management

Communication Layer :

  1. This is where data gets transported.
  2. This part of the technology infrastructure ensures the hardware is connected to the network, via proprietary or open-source communication protocols.
  3. This layer gives the data from devices the “expression”
  4. The 2 components which go with this layer are :
    1. Networks/ Infrastructure
    2. Communication Services

Software Backend Layer ( Cloud Services Layer )   :

  1. This is where the data is managed.
  2. It manages the  connected devices and networks while  providing  the necessary  the interface to systems in the eco-system  (e.g., ERP-system).
  3. This layer provides the “knowledge”
  4. The 2 components which go with this layer are :
    1. Database ( RDBMS and noSQL ) for storage and orchestration
    2. Processing , Rules Engine and Events Management

Applications Layer :

  1. This is where data is turned into value.
  2. In the application layer, IoT use cases get presented to the user (B2C or B2B).
  3. This layer is responsible for the “actions” to be taken.
  4. The 2 components here are
    1. Data Visualization and Analytics
    2. External Interfaces( APIs) to third-party systems ( like ERP )

The cross layer is Security layer which cuts across the 4 layers as mentioned.

The nub of the issue is ,  companies just providing cloud storage  or data security or running a CRM software or connectivity management claim to be an IoT platform .

75 % of the IoT platforms which are currently in the market provide connectivity management pretty well which is essentially the communication layer.

This is borne by the figures which are as below:

  1. IoT platforms themselves will not be revenue earners , but they can definitely facilitate revenue growth when they are put in a business context .The total revenue generated through IoT platforms in 2015 is $ 330 Mill and is expected to grow to $ 1.168 Bill in year 2017 ( as per reports from IoT-Analytics ) . Of the 460 platforms which are there only 7 % of the platforms generate $ 10 Mill or above .
  2. McKinsey report says that $11 Trillion is the business value which can be generated through the implementation of IoT programs and that would mean through productivity gains, efficiency of operations and the like .
  3. The fact that 12.5 bill things would be connected by 2020 also makes communication layer with connectivity the strongest contributor to the IoT platform companies.

So what are the parameters one should look at when accepting an IoT platform as a platform in the truest sense of the word (with integrity)?

The assessment of a platform could be considered to fall in two broad areas .They would be:

  1. Depth across the Layers for a Horizontal IoT Platform
  2. Vertical User Specific Industry Focus ( B2C or B2B )

The Depth Across the Layers for a Horizontal IoT Platform would cover:

  • Application Enablement
  • Device Management
  • Cloud Storage
  • Analytics Platforms
  • Connectivity

Currently 75 % of the platforms are in Connectivity layer ( as per IoT-Analytics report )

Vertical User Specific Industry Focus ( B2C or B2B focus )

  • Consumer – Home, Lifestyle , Health , Mobility
  • Business – Retail, health , Energy ,Smart Cities , Manufacturing , Supply Chain , Public Services

The leader here are Energy and Manufacturing (falling under IIoT ).

Next time one comes across an “IoT Platform” one needs to be suitably  intrigued to check the integrity of that claim!!



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