When we here at MachNation listen to questions from enterprise buyers interested in internet of things (IoT) platforms we get many questions around analytics features, dashboards, data models, integration, etc. One of the single greatest overlooked functions of an IoT platform is the capacity for people to actually USE IT effectively. It is easy to get caught up in all of the fancy technology, but there is (at some point) always going to be a human element in the equation.
IoT solutions are typically interacted with by two groups of people, the developers implementing and maintaining the technical solutions on them, and the end-users actually putting those solutions into practice to drive business processes. The availability of enablement tools are key to optimizing an always important but sometimes neglected aspect in choosing an IoT platform, time. Consider, the time it takes to train a user on the platform, or develop a custom solution on it, or even just to perform daily tasks and maintenance functions. Consider a platform that has the tools in place that allows users and developers to perform these things efficiently, vs. one that does not. Over the course of months or years the better usability and enablement the platform has will cut operational costs exponentially compared to a platform that is hard to develop on and hard to operate. Let’s look at two examples to further elucidate our point:
- Hyperscale IoT Vendors – Example: AWS or Microsoft Azure IoT. These platforms offer some of the broadest (if not THE broadest) ecosystem of connected services and customization for enterprises to build their solutions. However, these platforms are very complex and often require lots of development investment to get a solution to production.
- Specialized Turn-Key IoT Vendors – These IoT solutions come in lots of flavors for many different verticals. They key differentiation being here is that they are purpose built and often include solution accelerators for developers and pre-built end-user experiences for customers (i.e., “turn-key offerings”).
To be clear, the previous examples are not to paint one example as the better choice over the other, but rather to highlight the two very ends of the spectrum of IoT solutions available. Of these two high-level examples there are many factors that contribute to what an enterprise buyer may consider more important and less important based on their available internal resources. Let’s now look at a few different internal factors enterprise buyers might consider and what route they would likely go down based on some of those factors:
- Ample available developer resources, flexible time-to-market (TTM), custom solution – #1
- Moderate available developer resources, targeted TTM, vertical-specific solution with custom components – #1 or #2
- Limited available developer resources, strict TTM, vertical-specific solution – #2
There are myriad levels to the decision buying tree, however the three common considerations in the enteprise buying proccess in each of the above scenarios are:
- Internal resources
Enterprise buyers should more closely consider the availability of enablement tools when evaluating IoT platforms because they have an effect on all of the above.
- The availability of solution accelerators and more productized developer enablement tools reduces developer overhead
- Good user-interface (UI) design and user-experience (UX) reduce the time needed for operational technology (OT) users to learn and operate the platform
- Platforms with enablement tools specifically designed to support the desired use-case come with pre-packaged applications, tools, and tools that allow an enterprise to get up and running much faster than building a custom solution
Ultimately, choosing the right IoT platform is dependant on the use-case, capabilities, and requirements of the enterprise. However, while it is easy to get lost in the technology bells and whistles, enterprises should also put equal consideration into their workers themselves. The cost of human capital in any organization is often the greatest expenditure, enterprises should make sure to choose an IoT platform that puts their workforce in the best possible position to achieve the enterprises